Train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec is a crime scene, engine allegedly tampered with

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Early Saturday, a freight train carrying crude oil derailed in
Lac-Megantic, Quebec, resulting in explosions that destroyed the center of the town. Up to 40 people are unaccounted for, possibly vaporized by the intense heat from the explosion. Here are the details that have been reported, Freight Train Derails and Explodes in Lac-Megantic, Quebec:

Early Saturday, a locomotive pulling a 72-car freight train full of
crude oil from North Dakota was parked for the night 11 km west of
Lac-Megantic, Quebec, the engineer checking into a nearby hotel.
Sometime shortly after, the unattended train began to roll away, toward
Lac-Megantic — investigators are still looking for the cause. The crude
oil cars, rolling downhill, broke free of the locomotives and picked up
speed, derailing at a curve in the center of Lac-Megantic, a lakeside
town of about 6,000 people. Six massive explosions followed, sending up
huge fireballs and setting dozens of buildings ablaze. Thousands were
evacuated, and so far, five deaths have been confirmed. Authorities
worry the toll will climb much higher, as more than 40 residents are
still listed as missing.

OK, this story smelled fishy to me on its face. There had to have been at least four locomotives for 72 fully loaded oil tankers. This freight train did not just start rolling downhill all by itself. The hydraulic brakes would have been set on the locomotives. This freight train had to have been tampered with.

In fact, the Toronto Star reports today that the site is now being treated as a “crime scene” as the railway says someone shut down a locomotive keeping the brakes on. Lac Megantic: Death toll rises in Quebec train derailment explosion:

Ed Burkhardt, chairman
of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, said Sunday night that
the train’s sole engineer shut down four of the five locomotive units on
the train, as is standard procedure, in the neighbouring community of
Nantes before heading to Lac Mégantic to sleep. Burkhardt said the next
engineer was probably due to arrive at daybreak.

But someone managed to
shut down the fifth locomotive unit, he said. The railroad alleges
someone tampered with the controls of the fifth engine, the one
maintaining brake pressure to keep the train stopped
.

“If the operating locomotive is shut down, there’s nothing left to keep
the brakes charged up, and the brake pressure will drop finally to the
point where they can’t be held in place any longer,” Burkhardt said.

There are two ways to shut down the fifth unit: There’s an emergency
lever on the outside of the locomotive that anyone wandering by could
access. Or, there are a number of levers and buttons inside the unlocked
cabin.

Both means were used, said Burkhardt.

* * *

By Sunday night, the
fires that had raged for some 36 hours were finally out, though
firefighters continued to douse what remained of the train cars in an
area still off-limits.

The ravaged site of a
train explosion that razed blocks of downtown Lac-Mégantic is being
treated as the “scene of a crime,” police said.

Genevieve Guilbault,
spokesperson for the provincial coroner’s office, made the grim
announcement that some of the 40 still missing may never be found.

“It is not impossible
when we look at the intensity of the explosion,” she told reporters. She
added that the five bodies recovered from the ravaged downtown area and
transported to Montreal for forensic examination have not been
positively identified.

* * *

“There is still a big part of the scene that is too dangerous to examine,” said Sgt. Benoit Richard.

Police are meeting
with relatives of the 40 still listed as missing and asking them to
provide material that might identify their remains. That material is in
turn passed on to the coroner’s office, which is running forensic
pathology tests in a Montreal laboratory.

* * *

[I]nvestigators have
confirmed that there was a fire involving the train where it was parked
by the engineer in Nantes, though they would not, or could not, say at
this point whether that contributed to the derailment and subsequent
explosion.

The TSB has recovered
the locomotive event recorder, the train equivalent to the airliner
“black box.” That  device will tell authorities how fast the train was
travelling, when it was set in motion and whether all the necessary
braking mechanisms were applied.

You may recall that back in April of this year, an Al Qaeda terror plot foiled after Canadian police arrest two over plan to blow up train to New York as it crossed Niagara Falls:

Canadian security forces have thwarted an al-Qaeda-backed terrorist plot to derail a New York City-bound passenger train as it crossed the Niagara River, just a few miles from Niagara Falls.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police yesterday arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto. Authorities allege the pair took orders and received guidance from al-Qaeda operatives in Iran.

* * *

The two men allegedly planned to derail an Amtrak or Canadian Via train as it crossed over the Whirpool Rapids Bridge from Canada into the United States, according to reports.

The 115-year-old arch bridge spans the Niagara River 225 feet above the water.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the operations was conducted with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

A source told Reuters that the Amtrak Maple Leaf line, which runs from Toronto to New York City, was targeted. Canadian officials declined to confirm which trains were in the crosshairs.

You can bet the freight train derailment in
Lac-Megantic, Quebec is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism.

One response to “Train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec is a crime scene, engine allegedly tampered with

  1. As soon as I heard this story, I thought it was a terrorist attack.