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 Train derailment and explosion kills 13 in Quebec, Canada
From Time2013-8-8

Train derailment and explosion kills 13 in Quebec, Canada

@ShortTitle@
10 July 2013
Investigators in the town of Lac-Megantic in Estrie region of Quebec, Canada are looking for the cause of an oil train derailment on July 6th. The focus of the investigation is on whether an earlier blaze on the same train may have set off a chain of events that led to the explosions that killed at least 13 people. Following safety concerns rescuers and investigators have now been able to access the area and are examining the charred remains of the train and are looking for what could be dozens of additional victims.

Nearly 40 people are still missing, not counting the 13 unidentified victims, suggesting the death toll was likely to rise sharply. Officials were looking at a locomotive blaze on the same train in a nearby town a few hours before the derailment.
All but one of the train's 73 cars were carrying oil. At least five of the train's tankers exploded after coming loose early Saturday, speeding downhill nearly seven miles and derailing into the town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border.

Officials reported on Tuesday (July 9th) that the fire is finally under control and that 1,200 out of about 2,000 evacuees will be able to go back to their homes. The search for bodies continues but police have declined to update the death toll or take questions about that.
The rail tankers involved in the derailment are known as DOT-111 and have a history of puncturing during accidents according to the lead Transportation Safety Board.

Canada's TSB has gone on record saying that it would like to see improvements on these tankers, though he said it was too soon to know whether a different or modified tanker would have avoided last weekend's tragedy. The DOT-111 is a staple of the American freight rail fleet. But its flaws have been noted as far back as a 1991 safety study. Among other things, its steel shell is too thin to resist puncturing in accidents, which almost guarantees the car will tear open in an accident, potentially spilling cargo that could catch fire, explode or contaminate the environment.

The Saturday blasts destroyed about 30 buildings, including a public library and Musi-Cafe, a popular bar that was filled with revelers, and forced about a third of the town's 6,000 residents from their homes. Much of the area where the bar once stood was burned to the ground. Burned-out car frames dotted the landscape.

 
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