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Relatives of the more than 40 people officially considered missing expressed little hope Sunday of finding them alive after a train carrying crude oil derailed, exploded and burst into flames Saturday in this town in eastern Quebec.
Raymond Lafontaine, president of a local construction company, believes his son Gaëtan Lafontaine and his daughter-in-law Karine died in the explosion. He criticized officials for allowing the rail line in the centre of the town.
“They have been running petroleum trains through our town for the past two years. It’s criminal,” said Lafontaine, who spoke Sunday in front of the high school Polyvalente Montigniac, which is currently serving as the town’s main shelter.
Others described a surreal scene.
“I slept in my car last night. I didn’t know if I’d sleep well inside [the high school]. We’re pretty much cut off from reality,” said Sylvain Tessier.
Red Cross spokesperson Myrianne Marotte said that 163 people stayed overnight at the school. Despite the horrific situation, morale is high, she said.
Family members of the missing milled about the school Sunday.
“We think my uncle was at Musi-Café (near the scene of the explosion) when it happened,” Joannie Bouhard, a young woman from Lennoxville, Que., who came to the town Saturday evening to support her family said.
“And besides, his apartment is right above. My grandmother was lucky. She was staying with him, but they got into a fight and she left. So, she’s safe, but we haven’t heard from him.”