Lac-Mégantic commemorates 11 years since the railway tragedy

Lac-Mégantic commemorates 11 years since the railway tragedy
Lac-Mégantic commemorates 11 years since the railway tragedy

In Lac-Mégantic, the date of July 6 will forever be a source of strong emotions. Eleven years ago, a train derailment in the heart of the city caused a fire that claimed the lives of 47 people, in what became the worst rail accident in the country’s history.

In the Estrie municipality of nearly 6,000 inhabitants, flags were lowered to half-mast to mark this sad anniversary. On this day of remembrance, no trains will run in the city, out of respect for the victims.

Various commemorative activities were planned, including a religious ceremony at the church, which had a front row seat to the tragedy in 2013. The fatal train derailed right in front of the building.

On Saturday morning, members of the city council laid a wreath and held a minute of silence at “L’espace de mémoire”, a memorial located on the site of the former Musi-Café, an emblematic place where more than half of the people who died on the evening of the accident were located.

“I want the people of Lac-Mégantic to know that we will never forget,” said Quebec Premier François Legault on the X network. “My thoughts go out to the families and loved ones of the 47 victims, to the first responders who were present and to the entire community of Lac-Mégantic.”

“To the people of Lac-Mégantic: your strength continues to inspire us all. On this difficult day, our thoughts are with you,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. “We also pay tribute to the courage and resilience of survivors as they rebuild their lives and communities.”

Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement that the “federal government is working with determination to strengthen rail safety and the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods across Canada. We are going to remove the railway line from downtown Lac-Mégantic.”

In October 2023, Minister Rodriguez announced that Ottawa would pay for the Lac-Mégantic rail bypass project. Currently, trains, some of which contain hazardous materials, pass through the downtown core.

Last June, the Legault government refused to conduct a new review by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement on the route of the bypass proposed by the federal government so that the project could move forward as soon as possible.

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