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Death toll climbs in Quebec train derailment disaster

Keywords: Tags  crude-by-rail, train wreck disaster, derailment, Quebe, Lac-Megantic, RaIL World, Edward Burkhardt, MMA Montreal

NEW YORK — The death toll from the fiery explosion after a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, now stands at 33, with 17 people still missing, according to a local police spokeswoman.

The train was stopped and "tied down" by an engineer from Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc. (MMA) about seven miles from Lac-Mégantic before it rolled downhill into the town, about 150 miles east of Montreal (, July 8)

Chicago-based Rail World Inc., parent company of MMA, could not be reached for comment, although chairman Edward Burkhardt said during a press conference in Lac-Mégantic that the train’s engineer may be at fault for the crash.

Standard industry practices such as leaving trains unmanned on overnight stops might come to an end as a result of the disaster, Burkhardt suggested. "We were following industry practice. Was industry practice adequate? I think not."

Railroad companies defended their safety record following the Lac-Mégantic accident, which raised concerns about the growing transport of crude oil via rail (, July 8).

Pipeline companies such as TransCanada Corp., which is seeking approval of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have said in the past that carrying crude via train is less safe than by pipeline (, March 18).

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