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A criminal investigation related to the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster is underway. The investigation seems to zeroing in on a fire that broke out on the same train involved in the accident that may have led to a sequence of events that could have contributed to the disaster.  

Lac-Megantic train blast: Criminal inquiry under way

A criminal inquiry has been launched in Canada into the derailment of an oil train that killed at least 15 people in a small Quebec town on Saturday.

Quebec police inspector Michel Forget said investigators had found evidence leading them toward a criminal probe.

The train, carrying 72 cars of crude oil, was parked shortly before midnight on Friday in the town of Nantes about seven miles (11km) away.

An engineer apparently left the train with four of its five locomotives shut down, but kept the final one running to ensure the brakes were engaged.

Soon, a Nantes fire crew was summoned to put out a blaze on the train.

For some reason, the train's brakes apparently failed soon after.

Photo of the fatal curve

                                     The scene of the disaster


                                  How Lac-Mégantic used to look

Nantes Fire Chief Patrick Lambert said that while his crews tackled the initial blaze, the final locomotive was shut down.

He said this was the standard operating procedure agreed with the train's US owner, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA).

But MMA maintains the decision to shut off the locomotive to put out the fire could have disabled the brakes.

This may explain how the rail cars' brakes failed, but will it explain how the runaway cars became uncoupled from the rest of the train?

 After the derailment and explosion streams of burning oil flowed out of the ruptured cars through part of the downtown and into the residential neighborhood beyond setting it ablaze. 35 people are still missing and the remains of some caught in the most intense parts of the fire may never be found.

Its been known for years that these old style of oil tank cars like the ones involved in this disaster pose greater hazards during accidents.  

Deadly Derailment in Quebec Underlines Oil Debate

By IAN AUSTEN

A 2009 report by the National Transportation Safety Board about a Canadian National derailment in Illinois called the design of those tank cars “inadequate” and found that it “made the cars subject to damage and catastrophic loss of hazardous materials.”

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