Canadians race to keep oil from derailment out of river
LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — The death toll in the devastating oil train derailment in Quebec reached 13 on Monday with 40 remaining unaccounted for as crews worked to contain 27,000 gallons of light crude that spilled from the tankers and made its way into nearby waterways.
There were fears it could flow into the St. Lawrence River all the way to Quebec City.
Investigators are testing ground and drinking water when crude oil from the railcars spilled into Chaudiere River that runs through the town.
Quebec's Environment Ministry spokesman Eric Cardinal said officials remained hopeful they could contain more than 85 percent of the spill.
All but one of the train's 73 tanker cars were carrying oil when they came loose early Saturday, sped downhill nearly seven miles into the town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border, and derailed, with at least five of the cars exploding.
The air brakes on the driverless train had been disabled by firefighters who were called to extinguish a blaze aboard one of the locomotives 90 minutes before the disaster, the head of the railway said.
The blasts decimated the town core, including a public library and a popular bar that was filled with revelers.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard said eight more bodies had been found in the wreckage, after conditions improved enough for inspectors to get better access to the charred site. Police would not say where the bodies were located for fear of upsetting families.
Raymond Lafontaine, who believed he lost three members of his family, including his son, said he was angry with what appeared to be lack of safety regulations. “We always wait until there's a big accident to change things,” he said.
“Well, today we've had a big accident, it's one of the biggest ever in Canada.”