Death toll in Lac-Megantic rises to 35 as crews demolish unstable buildings
Published Sunday, July 14, 2013 12:02PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 14, 2013 11:21PM EDT
Two more bodies have been recovered in Lac-Megantic, Que., officials announced Sunday after demolishing unstable buildings in order to continue the search for more victims of last weekend’s tragic train derailment.
The official death toll following the train disaster stands at 35, but officials said Sunday that 15 others remain missing and are presumed dead.
Lt. Michel Brunet, of Quebec’s provincial police, held a news conference Sunday afternoon after earlier giving notice of the demolitions so residents in 6,000-person community were not alarmed by the sight of buildings collapsing.
Brunet also said three firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. One worker blacked out and was taken to hospital where he is in stable condition. Brunet declined to comment on the reason for the blackout but said the worker did not fall ill due to heat or poor air quality.
Brunet said earlier the two buildings that were demolished are located in the town’s commercial area, close to the centre of the derailment site.
Brunet said the risk of the two buildings collapsing was too high to allow search crews to enter the sites.
Crews at the site have been working in 15-minute rotating shifts as temperatures reach above 30 C.
Brunet said the demolition allows workers to search a greater area, as the focus remains on finding those missing and presumed dead.
“The crews are doing everything they can to find bodies,” he told reporters.
A mechanical device was used to demolish the structures and no explosives were set off.
Late Saturday, police confirmed the names of seven of the victims. They are:
- Frederic Boutin, 19;
- Kathy Clusiault, 24;
- Elodie Turcotte, 18;
- Yannick Bouchard, 36;
- Karine Lafontaine, 35;
- Maxime Dubois, 27;
- Melissa Roy, 29.
On Thursday, the coroner's office had confirmed 93-year-old Eliane Parenteau -- who lived alone, close to the tracks -- also perished in the disaster.
It’s been a little over one week since the devastating train derailment took place.
On July 6, just after 1 a.m., a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Inc. train came barrelling into Lac-Megantic, skipped the tracks and exploded into a series of massive fire balls. The 72-car train was carrying crude oil destined for New Brunswick.
The train had been parked in the nearby town of Nantes, about 12 kilometres away. It was left unattended, with the engineer at a hotel for the night.