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When things go wrong, those in power often promise to make it right. But do they? In this series, The Times is going back to the scene of major news events to see if those promises were kept.
The runaway train hurtled into the center of town shortly after midnight, with no one aboard to apply the brakes or sound a whistle to warn residents about the deadly cargo bearing down on them.
When it reached a tight curve, the freight train, going 65 miles an hour, derailed. Amid a deafening, horrific screech of rupturing metal, more than a million gallons of fuel spilled and exploded.
The blast incinerated most of downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. In a community of just 5,600, 47 people were killed.
The scale of the disaster on July 6, 2013, not only shocked and outraged Canada, it also raised alarm in towns and cities across the country, where a growing number of trains, laden with oil, explosives and toxic chemicals, were rolling through urban centers day and night.
Canada’s government, and the railway industry, vowed to quickly address people’s fear.
“This is an unbelievable disaster that has occurred here,” Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister at the time, said after inspecting the destruction. “They’ll be investigations to ascertain what has occurred to make sure that it can’t happen again.”
This article first appeared on www.nytimes.com
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