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Bodies recovered slowly in Quebec

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 9:24 p.m.

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — Transportation workers moved carefully on Friday in and around the site of the nearly week-old derailment that incinerated the heart of this small Quebec town and killed 50 people, searching for evidence that would help explain what led to such destruction.

Police, meanwhile, increased the number of people confirmed killed by four to 28 as the search for remains continued to be slowed by dangerous conditions — this time it was benzene fumes from the contaminated soil, which forced officials to try to ventilate the area.

The other 22 people are presumed dead.

Information and material being put together by investigators includes the track's grade, the train's weight and how many brakes were set shortly before the locomotive and 72 tankers carrying shale oil began rolling down a slope in the early hours of Saturday, gathering speed for seven miles before slamming into the downtown of Lac-Megantic. The crash and ensuing explosions destroyed homes, businesses, a municipal library and the popular Musi-Cafe bar that was filled with people.

“I keep coming back to the Musi-Cafe because I have two children in their 20s, and they could have easily been at a bar like that,” said Wendy Tadros, chairwoman of Canada's Transportation Safety Board. “I'm sorry I cannot do more to relieve your grief.”

It will be months before investigators will be able to draw any conclusions about what happened, Tadros said. Investigators plan to produce a 3D model through laser scanning of images being collected at the scene of the disaster.

Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of U.S.-based Rail World Inc., which owns the runaway train, has blamed the engineer for failing to set the brakes on the train, which came from North Dakota.

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