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Railway has minor derailment in Quebec

No injuries; four bodies recovered in Lac-M©gantic

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FARNHAM, Que. -- The company involved in the Lac-M©gantic disaster experienced another derailment Thursday -- although this one was minor.

A Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway cargo train carrying soy derailed in Farnham, Que., between Montreal and Lac-M©gantic.

Authorities said one wheel went off the rail and the incident did not occur on the main track. The federal Transportation Safety Board said it was not called to the scene to inspect the incident.

"(There were) no injuries, no damage, no crossing blocked," said TSB spokesman John Cottreau.

The federal agency says there were about three rail incidents per day in Canada last year, which is down from the 2007-11 period.

In 2012, it says there were 1,011 rail accidents -- close to the total of 1,022 from the previous year but down 10 per cent from the average of 1,128 per year between 2007 and 2011.

Freight trains counted for 69 per cent of trains involved in rail accidents in 2012 -- with the large majority being non-main-track accidents.

Main-track derailments accounted for seven per cent of all 2012 accidents.

Only one of the 2012 accidents resulted in a fatality, the TSB stats say.

The MMA company has drawn a considerable amount of public anger following the Lac-M©gantic disaster, in which 50 people are believed to have been killed. Four more bodies were recovered Thursday, bringing the total of bodies found to 42.

A police officer involved in the forensic operation broke down in tears while speaking with media Thursday about the effort.

One media report examined the question of whether MMA executives might have to pay out of their own pocket to compensate Lac-M©gantic residents, on top of any insurance claims and federal-provincial programs.

Quebec legislation passed in 2011, the Quebec Law on Environmental Quality, lays out conditions for such a financial punishment.

Its section 115.50 says top executives of a company unable to offer compensation after an environmental disaster must do so themselves, unless they can prove they acted with "prudence and diligence" to avoid the incident.

Meanwhile Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office released a letter of condolence from U.S. President Barack Obama.

In the undated letter, Obama expressed his sadness over the "devastating loss of life" and offered American help if needed.

He said he was heartened to learn of the help U.S. firefighters offered, just as Canadians in the past have stood by the U.S. in difficult times.

"Our assistance to one another in dealing with such accidents is a mark of our close friendship and partnership," he wrote.

"My government stands ready to offer any additional support Canada may need in the aftermath of this tragic accident."

Other foreign governments, the Pope and the Queen have offered similar condolences.

It's unclear when the Obama letter was sent. The PMO only released the letter after news of it surfaced publicly Thursday.

The mayor of Lac-M©gantic had told a news conference Harper's office had relayed the contents to her, and she expressed her appreciation for the note.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2013 A13

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