Railway Worker Suspended in Quebec Train Crash

The engineer in charge of the oil train that derailed in Quebec, killing at least 15 people and destroying blocks of a small town, has been suspended, reports NBC News.

Ed Burkhardt, chief of Rail World Inc., parent company of the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, was met by jeers from residents as he spoke at an impromptu news conference in Lac-Megantic in which he said the engineer had been suspended without pay.

“It was our employee that was responsible for setting the brakes on the train … That employee is under investigation and is not working,” Burkhardt said.

Burkhardt said the engineer was originally believed when he said all 11 hand brakes had been applied on the train, but now there are doubts about the worker’s story.

“We think that he applied some handbrakes, the problem is that he didn’t apply enough of them,” Burkhardt said, according to CBC.

The engineer parked the train late Friday night, investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada have said, then went to sleep at a nearby hotel.

A fire was reported on the train later that night by another employee, according to the TSB. After firefighters left the scene the train started to roll downhill, derailed and exploded in a huge fireball Saturday in the town of 6,000 near the Maine border.

The move to detain the engineer came on a day police reported the number of dead or missing in the tragedy had risen.

“The number of missing persons has changed since our last count. We are up to around 60 persons that have been reported to us as missing,” police spokesman Michel Forget told reporters, noting that the number was changing every day.

Police are investigating whether the disaster involved foul play or criminal negligence, but Forget deflected questions about potential criminal charges. Forget said any charges were up to Quebec prosectors.

Read more of the story here http://nbcnews.to/13Nzr55

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