Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lac-Megantic Marks Sombre Anniversary of 2013 Rail Disaster That Killed 47

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lac-Megantic Marks Sombre Anniversary of 2013 Rail Disaster That Killed 47

Article excerpt

Lac-Megantic marks sombre second anniversary

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LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. - Church bells rang 47 times in Lac-Megantic on Monday as locals gathered to honour the victims of a rail disaster two years ago that forever changed the Quebec town.

Forty-seven people were killed and a large swath of downtown was destroyed on July 6, 2013, when an unmanned 72-car train jumped the track, spilling and igniting some six million litres of volatile crude oil.

At noon, people gathered outside Lac-Megantic's St-Agnes Church for a moment of silence and a ringing of the bells. Ongoing decontamination work was also halted briefly to mark the tragedy.

A low-key mass was held Sunday night.

Politicians of all stripes marked the anniversary, vowing to continue to support the community.

Premier Philippe Couillard hailed the resolve of locals and said in a statement the province would keep helping the town of 6,000.

"Our thoughts are with the families and relatives of the victims and to all citizens of Lac-Megantic," Couillard said. "The Meganticois are a good example of solidarity and resilience for all of Quebec."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also praised residents as the town rebuilds and heals.

"It takes people of extraordinary strength to overcome such a disaster, and I was privileged to witness first-hand during my visits to Lac-Megantic the remarkable resilience, pride and spirit of those in the community," Harper said.

He added that those found guilty of breaking the law will be held to account.

In late June, several people and the defunct rail company at the heart of the disaster were hit with new federal charges. Among the accused were Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the insolvent company's former president, and train driver Thomas Harding.

All those charged will appear in court in Lac-Megantic on Nov. 12.

Previously, Harding, two fellow railway employees and the company were charged by the Crown in Quebec with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. …

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