Oil explosion in Quebec train crash "abnormal", investigator says

Thu Aug 1, 2013 2:31pm EDT
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* Investigator says probe will be comprehensive, take months

* Officials raise doubts about what fuel was being shipped

* Police end search for bodies; 47 dead or presumed dead

* MMA Railway suggests it may not survive

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA, Aug 1(Reuters) - As investigators seek reasons for the deadly train crash in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last month and the huge "abnormal" fire it caused, they are focusing on the nature of the fuel cargo as well as the brakes, tanker cars, and locomotive, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) said on Thursday.

TSB officials told a news conference that its investigation into the July 6 railway accident, North America's worst in two decades, would last for months and that it was too early to draw conclusions.

They raised doubts about the nature of the petroleum cargo on the runaway train, which was listed as hauling 50,000 barrels of crude oil when it derailed and smashed into the center of the small lakeside town near the Maine border, exploding in a blast that killed 47 people.

"We want to make sure that the dangerous goods that were involved here were properly described, properly packaged in the right tankers, and we're going to check into all those things," said lead TSB investigator Donald Ross.   Continued...