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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Memorial in Canada rail crash town

Mourners gather at a memorial service for the victims killed when a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec (AP)
Mourners gather at a memorial service for the victims killed when a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec (AP)
Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche, front left, and Father Steve Lemay lead the procession ahead of the memorial service (AP)

An overflow crowd has attended a memorial service at a church in the Canadian town where 47 people were killed when a runaway oil train derailed and exploded.

About 1,000 people packed Ste-Agnes Church in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, for the Saturday morning Mass presided over by Luc Cyr, the archbishop of Sherbrooke.

Among the dignitaries attending were Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, Quebec premier Pauline Marois and the town's mayor, Colette Roy-Laroche.

"This has been an emotional day followed by a very emotional period," Mr Harper said outside the church. "It is very difficult to absorb all this when you see all of these families who have been affected."

Parish priest Steve Lemay said in his homily that the town has suffered through "unbelievable events that caused us inexpressible suffering."

"Our town, its heart devastated, is mourning its children. Children who were unique because of a colour and vitality they brought to their families."

The service was held three weeks after a runaway train carrying 72 carloads of crude oil hurtled down an incline, derailed and slammed into downtown Lac-Megantic.

Several train cars exploded and fireballs rained down on the town, destroying 40 buildings in the picturesque lakeside town of 6,000.

The unattended Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train had been parked overnight on a rail line before it came loose.

Father Lemay said he found inspiration in the courage of crews at the disaster site; the volunteers in the parish; the schools transformed into shelters; and the legions of dedicated public workers. "Nobody here or anywhere, can bring back the dead and give them back to those who love them as Jesus did. However... we can all help life triumph. On our own path, we each experience these little victories over evil - little victories over suffering."

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