Authorities Launch Criminal Investigation Into Quebec Train Derailment That Killed 15

Lac Mégantic Quebec Train Crash Canada

A criminal investigation has been launched into the Quebec train derailment and subsequent explosion that happened Saturday, and Canadian authorities are now saying there’s evidence the train was tampered with.

The death toll for the disaster has also risen to 15 people

The big questions that lingers is: What happened to the brakes?

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train carrying crude oil through Canada crashed into a small town near the U.S. border of Maine after the crew parked it overnight at the top of a hill. The brakes apparently failed, and the train derailed, crashed, and sparked six large explosions.

There’s some confusion as to exactly what caused the train to start moving after it had been parked for the night, and most questions centre around whether the brakes were working properly.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The train operator secured the train at 11:25 p.m. in Nantes, then went to a hotel for the night. According to MMA Railway Chairman Edward Burkhardt, the operator set the air brakes and hand brakes in line with company policy, and powered off some of the train’s engines.
  • The Nantes fire department got a call at 11:30 p.m. about a fire on the train that might have been caused by a broken fuels or oil line.
  • Firefighters arrived seven minutes later, and the blaze was put out by 12:12 a.m. Firefighters turned off the locomotive to prevent fuel from circulating into the flames, according to Reuters.
  • The fire department says it contacted the railway company’s regional office to tell them what the firefighters did. They say it was up to the railway company to inspect the train after the blaze.
  • Burkhardt says the fire department should have reached out to a local engineer to ask about securing the train.
  • A witness told Reuters that five minutes after the firefighters left, he saw the train rolling down the hill without its lights on.

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