More bodies were found in the town of Lac-Megantic, bringing the official death toll from the Quebec train disaster to 33, though 17 more people are missing and presumed dead.
the news of five more bodies found came as church bells in the small Quebec town tolled 50 times in remembrance of the 50 people missing or dead in the incident.
The crash happened just over a week ago, at 1:14 am local time last Saturday. A train with 72 tankers carrying shale oil slammed into downtown Lac-Megantic and exploded, sending fireballs into the sky. The explosions destroyed homes, businesses, and a popular bar that was filled with people.
The unattended train was parked overnight seven miles away from the picturesque town. But it appears that the brakes may have failed on the train, causing it to careen down hill, gathering speed before it finally derailed.
While authorities have recovered 33 bodies, they are not all identified yet. The first victim identified by the coroner’s office was 93-year-old Elaine Parenteau. The identities of seven more victims will be released Saturday night, followed by one more on Monday.
While recovery efforts continue, several people from Lac-Megantic and surrounding areas turned out for the bell tolling, along with a moment of silence afterward.
In a show of support, several people were seen clutching each other’s hands and leaning on each other for support. Sobs were heard loudly between chimes and during the silence. A man also released several white doves into the sky, where they flew toward the town’s battered center.
Along with recovery and identifying remains, officials are also continuing their investigation into what caused the Quebec train disaster. The CEO of the train company blamed the conductor for failing to set enough brakes before he left for the night. But the cause of the accident likely won’t be known for months to come.
[Image via Sûreté du Québec]