Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Oil train derails in Quebec town, leaving one dead

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — A train carrying crude oil derailed Saturday in eastern Quebec, sparking several explosions and a blaze that destroyed the center of the town of Lac-Megantic and killed at least one person. An unspecified number of people were reported missing.

Witnesses said the eruptions sent local residents scrambling through the streets under the intense heat of towering fireballs and a red glow that illuminated the night sky.

Quebec provincial police Lt. Michel Brunet confirmed that one person had died. He refused to say how many others might be dead, but said authorities have been told "many" people have been reported missing.

Up to 1,000 people were forced from their homes in the middle of the night in the town, which is about 155 miles east of Montreal and about 10 miles west of the Maine border.

The derailment caused several tanker rail cars to explode in the downtown core, a popular area known for its bars that is often bustling on summer weekend nights. Police said the first explosion tore through the town shortly after 1 a.m.

The fire spread to a number of homes in the lakeside town of 6,000 people, and witnesses said the flames shot up higher than the steeple on a nearby church. Flames and billowing black smoke could be seen more than 12 hours after the derailment, which involved a 73-car train.

"When you see the center of your town almost destroyed, you'll understand that we're asking ourselves how we are going to get through this event," an emotional Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche told a televised news briefing.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known.

Dozens of residents gathered hours after the explosion at the edge of a wide security perimeter and many feared the worst. About a kilometer (0.6 miles) down the town's main street, flames danced around a railway tanker that sat at the edge of the road.

"On a beautiful evening like this with the bar, there were a lot of people there," said Bernard Demers, who owns a restaurant near the blast site. "It was a big explosion. It's a catastrophe. It's terrible for the population."

Demers, who fled his home, said the explosion was "like an atomic bomb. It was very hot. ... Everybody was afraid."

Charles Coue said he and his wife felt the heat as they sprinted from their home after an explosion went off a couple of hundred yards away. "It went boom and it came like a fireball," he said.

Environment Quebec spokesman Christian Blanchette said a large but undetermined amount of fuel had also spilled into the Chaudiere River. Blanchette said the 73 cars were filled with crude oil, and at least four were damaged by the explosions and fire. "We also have a spill on the lake and the river that is concerning us. We have advised the local municipalities downstream to be careful if they take their water from the Chaudiere River."

He added that a mobile laboratory had been set up to monitor the quality of the air.

Firefighters and rescue workers from several neighboring municipalities, including Sherbrooke and Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, were called in to help.

Firefighters from northern Maine were also deployed to the Quebec town, according to a spokesman at the sheriff's office in Franklin County.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his sympathy in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those affected by this morning's tragic train derailment and subsequent fires in Lac-Megantic, Quebec," Harper said.

The train, reportedly heading toward Maine, belongs to Montreal Maine & Atlantic. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway carried nearly 3 million barrels of oil across Maine last year.

Comments
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Protests were held on both ends of Pinellas County on Monday in opposition to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents as they seek asylum at the U.S. border."Children are not pawns," "No kids in cages" and "I would...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

One of Florida’s biggest draws is also one if its biggest liabilities — its coastline. A new report projects that Florida is at the greatest risk of any state for tidal flooding caused by rising sea levels. And Tampa Bay faces some of the greatest ri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

day after an electrical fire broke out in its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Ave. N, said staffers spent Monday and the weekend moving things into other warehouses.The damage from the fire at ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

WashingtonPentagon suspends August drills with South KoreaThe Pentagon on Monday formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from President Donald Trump’s nuclear summit with Nort...
Updated: 2 hours ago