Death Toll from Quebec Train Derailment Expected to Reach 50

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-07_14cc5a08d1.jpgFrançois Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty Images(LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec) -- The death toll from Saturday’s train derailment that annihilated the center of a small Quebec town is expected to reach 50, according to Canadian officials investigating the crash. Although only 20 people are confirmed dead, it’s assumed that 30 others still unaccounted for perished when the train sped down a hill in Lac-Megantic, causing at least five cars to explode.

Besides the dead, 30 buildings in the town of 6,000 residents were leveled by the blasts and subsequent fires.

Meanwhile, Edward Burkhardt, the president and CEO of parent company Rail World Inc., which owned the train, heaped blame on an unnamed engineer for failing to secure enough hand brakes before leaving the train parked on a hill.

Burkhardt told reporters, “He's not in jail, but police have talked about prosecuting him.  I understand exactly why the police are considering criminal charges...If that's the case, let the chips fall where they may."

Although the CEO did not mention the engineer’s name, Canadian media has identified him as Tom Hardin of Quebec.

The center of Lac-Megantic is being treated as a crime scene by police as the grim search for the remains of victims continues into Thursday.  Some areas remain too hot to comb through although most of the 2,000 people who had to evacuate their homes have been allowed to return.

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