The bodies of fewer than half of the 50 people believed dead in a runaway oil train’s explosive derailment have been recovered, nearly a week after the accident which demolished a large part of Lac-Megantic town in Quebec.
The devastated downtown remained dangerous for days as responders put out fires and struggled to keep the remaining oil tankers cool so they wouldn’t explode.
The hazardous conditions delayed the search for the missing − and now for bodies so badly burnt that coroners have only been able to make one positive identification so far.
The first victim to be identified by the coroner’s office on Thursday was 93-year-old Eliane Parenteau, who lived in the disaster zone in downtown Lac-Megantic.
Police said four more bodies had been found, bringing the total found to 24.
Quebec’s premier toured the traumatized town and sharply criticized the U.S. railway’s chief for not responding in person more quickly to Canada’s worst railway disaster in nearly 150 years.
Conditions had at least improved enough for nearly all the 2,000 residents forced to evacuate after the crash − a third of the population − to return home, the town’s mayor said.
The derailment is Canada’s worst railway disaster since a train plunged into a Quebec river in 1864, killing 99.
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