Quebec brings in 9/11 expert to help sift through train crash debris

Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:18pm EDT
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By Phil Wahba

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) - A U.S. expert who worked on the aftermath of the September 11 attacks is helping Canadian authorities sift through wreckage left more than a week after a runaway train barreled into a lakeside town in Quebec killing 50 people, police said on Wednesday.

Frank DePaolo, an emergency specialist from New York's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, visited the ruins of Lac-Megantic earlier in the week.

DePaolo is an expert in managing major disaster sites and is responsible for one of the forensic teams working at the collapsed World Trade Center towers in New York City.

"He said the efforts were complex and difficult and he was overwhelmed (by) the enormity of the situation," Quebec police spokesman Michel Forget told reporters.

A spokeswoman in DePaolo's New York office said he was not available for comment.

Investigators are painstakingly working their way through Lac-Megantic, where a runaway crude oil train derailed and exploded on July 6 leaving burned-down buildings, mountains of rail-related debris and charred trees. Some 37 bodies have been recovered and investigators are still searching for more remains.

It was North America's deadliest rail accident in more than 20 years.

The center of the town - in the mainly French-speaking province of Quebec - is considered a crime scene and it will likely be weeks to months before trains are able to run again.   Continued...

A firefighter and an emergency crew work on the site of the train wreck in Lac Megantic, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Ryan Remiorz/Pool