Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Townsfolk gather in solemn tribute

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Wendy Tadros

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Wendy Tadros

LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. -- The town that was torn apart by fireballs paused to light candles in a poignant remembrance of its dead late Friday.

Clusters of residents of Lac-M©gantic appeared before dusk to stand or sit on the steps of the local church.

Candles flickered in their hands in the warm night air as people whispered among themselves. Some hugged. Others were quiet.

A small group of Quebec police officers, whose force has been combing the site of last Saturday's catastrophic train derailment for bodies as well as evidence, stood watch.

So far, 28 people have been confirmed dead and more than 20 are still missing.

The vigil had been cancelled earlier in the day. Town officials said the community is still under a state of emergency. They said people could perhaps instead pay tribute by lighting a candle at home. But as darkness fell, they came out instead.

Earlier in the day, the federal Transportation Safety Board shared details of its upcoming multi-month investigation into what it describes as possibly the worst train disaster in Canadian history.

TSB chairwoman Wendy Tadros said the investigation would take many months. She said 20 people were collecting evidence on-site, and 10 more were working on the case in Ottawa.

"This may well be the most devastating rail accident in Canadian history," she told a news conference Friday in the town, where she offered her condolences to residents.

"This will be an incredibly complex investigation.

"It will take months -- or more."

Investigators plan to produce a 3-D model through laser-scanning of images currently being collected at the site of the accident.

Four more bodies were found Friday, bringing the total of discovered bodies to 28. Eight of the victims have been officially identified.

The TSB said Canadians will be told what happened and why.

"But today we are a long way from there," Tadros said.

The Quebec government has left open the possibility of an inquiry.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2013 B14

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