By Jueseppi B.
Canada‘s Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with firefighters while he tours the wreckage of the train explosion in Lac Megantic, July 7, 2013.
Credit: REUTERS/Paul Chiasson/Pool
By Julie Gordon and Richard Valdmanis
LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec | Sun Jul 7, 2013
(Reuters) – The only warning Lac-Megantic residents had of the coming disaster was the louder-than-usual rumble of a train – a runaway locomotive laden with crude oil that would jump the tracks, explode and burn down the center of town.
“I heard a rattle, louder than usual, so I went out on the balcony and I saw the train going at extremely high speed,” said Ghislain Bisson, 52, who was watching late-night television as the train approached. “Then, I saw it. It just left the track and headed right for the building.
“The explosion occurred. I woke up my girlfriend and said, ‘we have to leave, we’re going to die here.’”
Much is still unknown about the cause of the disaster that struck this small Quebec town, perched on the edge of a blue lake ringed by forests of pine and birch and close to the border with the U.S. state of Maine.
The company that owns the train said the brakes somehow became disengaged as it was parked at a siding on a hill. There was no driver aboard when the train barreled into Lac-Megantic shortly after 1 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Saturday.
The death toll, currently five, could rise to nearly 50 if people reported missing are not found. That would make it Canada’s deadliest accident since a 1956 plane crash in Chilliwack, British Columbia, that killed 64 people.
“My girlfriend has cousins that we’re pretty sure are dead right now, 99 percent. It just hasn’t been confirmed,” Bisson said. “I hope to God that not a single other train like this passes through our town.”
The tragedy is particularly devastating for a town with only 6,000 residents. The blast razed dozens of buildings, including a popular bar called Musi-Cafe, where many of those reported missing are believed to have been.
Bernard Theberge, 44, was on Musi-Cafe’s patio when he saw the train approach. He said there may have been 50 people inside the bar.
“There was a big explosion, the heat reached the cafe and then a big wall of fire enveloped the road,” said Theberge, who escaped with second-degree burns to his arm. “There were people inside. I thought for maybe 2 seconds that I should go in, but the heat was too strong to get to the door.”
“It’s hard, it’s huge. Imagine half the town on fire,” he said.
Canada Explosion of a train in downtown Lac Mégantic Quebec Train Derailment
Published on Jul 7, 2013
Canada, Québec un train qui transportait du pétrole déraille dans un village Lac Mégantic
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Explosion of a train in downtown Lac Mégantic Quebec – Train Derailment
Quebec train crash: fires still burning 24 hours later – video Quebec police: 5 dead in oil train derailment. Huge fire erupts in Lac-Mégantic, QC, Canada, as an oil train derails. All of downtown is burning right now.
The downtown core remained cordoned off on Sunday as police, regulators and the company that owned the train – Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway – tried to figure out what happened. About 2,000 people were evacuated.
“I was sleeping when it happened. There was a boom and the inside of my house turned red with the color of the flames. I left with nothing but the shirt on my back,” said Rene Bolduc, who lives a few hundred meters from the site of the accident. He said he saw people running as flames towered overhead.
“It felt like the hairs on my arms and face were burning off.” Bolduc was not hurt, and has not been back to his house, which is in the blocked off area.
Most shops were closed and homes deserted on Sunday. Scores of men, women and children sat inside the local school, a large brick building transformed into a makeshift shelter. Children played ball in a corner room while adults napped on cots. Trucks delivered water and food.
“At least we are not out on the street,” said Valerie Dinelle, 27, who sat on a cot next to her caged cat, Pixel. She said she was evacuated on Saturday afternoon when the wind shifted and blew toxic smoke into her neighborhood.
Outside, sitting in the shade, Louise Boulet, 65, looked at a local newspaper that had published an aerial view of the explosion scene.
“That is where my sister lived,” she said pointing to an image of a flattened building. “She is dead for sure. If she were alive, her car would not still be there,” she said, pointing to a burnt vehicle next to the building.
Her sister, Marie-France Boulet, 63, ran a women’s clothing shop from the front of the building where she lived.
“She was my best friend. She died with all of my secrets, and I will guard all of hers,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.
(Writing by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Stacey Joyce)
A volunteer gives clothes to a woman who’s been evacuated from her home at the Polyvalente Montignac, the school sheltering the people who were forced to leave their houses after the explosion, in Lac More…
Credit: REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with people at the Polyvalente Montignac, the school sheltering the people who were forced to leave their houses after the explosion, in Lac More…
Credit: REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
People embrace each other at the Polyvalente Montignac, the school sheltering the people who were forced to leave their houses after the explosion, in Lac Megantic, July 7, 2013.
Credit: REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Thank you Reuters.
By TERRY COLLINS and JOAN LOWY
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s fire chief says the two people who died in the Asiana airlines crash were found outside of the heavily damaged jetliner.
Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said late Saturday that she did not know the ages or genders of the victims.
Asiana Flight 214 from Seoul had more than 300 passengers and crew members aboard when it made a hard landing, lost a tail and caught on fire at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning.
More than 180 people were taken to nine area hospitals, but the majority had relatively minor injuries. As of Saturday evening the number of fatalities stood at two while at least five people were reported in critical condition.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
An Asiana Airlines flight packed with more than 300 people slammed into the runway while landing at San Francisco airport Saturday and caught fire, forcing many to escape by sliding down the emergency inflatable slides as flames tore through the plane.
At least two people died in the crash, while another 181 people were taken to hospitals, most with minor injuries, authorities said. Five people, including one child, remained in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, the region’s main trauma center.
As the plane approached the runway from the waters of San Francisco Bay around noon, travelers in the terminals and others eyewitnesses could see that the aircraft was swaying unusually from side to side and that at one point the tail seemed to hit the ground.
Kate Belding, who was jogging a few miles away, said she thought: “Oh my God. That plane is crashing.”
By the time the flames were out, the top of the Boeing 777′s fuselage had burned away. The tail section was gone, with pieces of it scattered across the beginning of the runway. One engine appeared to have broken away. Emergency responders could be seen walking inside the burned-out wreckage.
News of the crash spread quickly on Twitter and the Internet in this wired city, with eyewitnesses tweeting their stories, posting images of the plumes of smoke rising above the bay and uploading video of passengers fleeing the burning plane.
“It just looked really bad,” Belding said. “I’ve seen the pictures of it since then, and it’s amazing anyone walked out of that plane.”
The investigation has been turned over to the FBI and terrorism has been ruled out, said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. Federal aviation and transportation investigators were heading to the scene. Asiana, Boeing and the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, pledged to work with them.
Vedpal Singh, who was sitting in the middle of the aircraft and survived the crash with his family, said there was no forewarning from the pilot or any crew members before the plane touched down hard and he heard a loud sound.
“We knew something was horrible wrong,” said Singh, who suffered a fractured collarbone and had his arm was in a sling.
“It’s miraculous we survived,” he said.
A visibly shaken Singh said the plane went silent before people tried to get out anyway they could. His 15-year-old son said luggage tumbled from the overhead bins The entire incident lasted about 10 seconds.
Based on witness accounts in the news and video of the wreckage, Mike Barr, a former military pilot and accident investigator who teaches aviation safety at the University of Southern California, said it appeared the plane approached the runway too low and something may have caught the runway lip – the seawall at the end of the runway.
San Francisco is one of several airports around the country that border bodies of water that have walls at the end of their runways to prevent planes that overrun a runway from ending up in the water.
Since the plane was about to land, its landing gear would have already been down, Barr said. It’s possible the landing gear or the tail of the plane hit the seawall, he said. If that happened, it would effectively slam the plane into the runway, he said.
Noting that some witnesses reported hearing the plane’s engines rev up just before the crash, Barr said that would be consistent with a pilot who realized at the last minute that the plane was too low and was increasing power to the engines to try to increase altitude. Barr said he could think of no reason why a plane would come in to land that low.
Belding was out jogging just before 11:30 a.m. on a path across the water from the airport when she noticed the plane approaching the runway in a way that “just didn’t look like it was coming in quite right.”
“Then all of a sudden I saw what looked like a cloud of dirt puffing up and then there was a big bang and it kind of looked like the plane maybe bounced (as it neared the ground),” she said. “I couldn’t really tell what happened, but you saw the wings going up and (in) a weird angle.”
“Not like it was cartwheeling,” she said, but rather as though the wings were almost swaying from side to side.
The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before coming to San Francisco, airport officials said. The airline said there were 16 crew members aboard, and the 291 passengers included 77South Koreans, 141 Chinese, 61 Americans and one Japanese citizen. The nationalities of the remaining passengers weren’t immediately known.
Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said 49 people were in serious condition and 132 had less significant injuries.
The airport closed for several hours, and when it reopened, two of the four runways were operating.
Asiana is a South Korean airline, second in size to national carrier Korean Air. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the Star Alliance, which is anchored in the U.S. by United Airlines.
The 777-200 is a long-range plane from Boeing. The twin-engine aircraft is one of the world’s most popular long-distance planes, often used for flights of 12 hours or more, from one continent to another. The airline’s website says its 777s can carry between 246 to 300 passengers.
The flight was 10 hours and 23 minutes, according toFlightAware, a flight tracking service. The 777 is a smaller, wide-body jet that can travel long distances without refueling and is typically used for long flights over water.
The most notable accident involving a 777 occurred on Jan. 17, 2008 at Heathrow Airport in London. British Airways Flight 28 landed hard about 1,000 feet short of the runway and slid onto the start of the runway. The impact broke the 777-200′s landing gear. There were 47 injuries, but no fatalities.
An investigation revealed ice pellets that had formed in the fuel were clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger, blocking fuel from reaching the plane’s engines. The Rolls-Royce Trent 800 series engines that were used on the plane were then redesigned.
Bill Waldock, an expert on aviation accident investigation, said he was reminded of the Heathrow accident as he watched video of Saturday’s crash. “Of course, there is no indication directly that’s what happened here,” he said. “That’s what the investigation is going to have to find out.”
The Asiana 777 “was right at the landing phase and for whatever reason the landing went wrong,” said Waldock, director of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University accident investigation laboratory in Prescott, Ariz.
“For whatever reason, they appeared to go low on approach and then the airplane pitched up suddenly to an extreme attitude, which could have been the pilots trying to keep it out of the ground,” he said.
The last time a large U.S. airline lost a plane in a fatal crash was an American Airlines Airbus A300 taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in 2001.
Asia remains one of the fastest-growing regions for aviation in the world. Even with slowing economies in Japan and China, airlines there saw 3.7 percent more passengers than a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Finding enough experienced pilots to meet a growing number of flights is becoming a problem. A 2012 report by aircraft manufacturer Boeing said the industry would need 460,000 new commercial airline pilots in the next two decades – with 185,000 of them needed in Asia alone.
“The Asia-Pacific region continues to present the largest projected growth in pilot demand,” the report said.
Lowy reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Jason Dearen in San Francisco and Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Pauline Arrillaga in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Airplane on fire at SFO airport
Published on Jul 6, 2013
News outlets are free to use so long as they credit the clip to “@360KID Scott Traylor”
Clip 2 – Airplane on fire at SFO airport
A very tragic and devastating weekend on this planet. Blessed we are for low causalities, it could have been much worse. Our condolences and best wishes are with all affected by this weekends tragedies.
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