July 25 (Reuters) - Police raided the Canadian offices of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway on Thursday as part of their investigation into a train crash earlier this month that destroyed the center of the small town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people.
“We are executing a search warrant,” Sergeant Benoit Richard of the provincial police, Sûréte du Québec, told Reuters. “We are searching the offices now.”
Richard said officers were combing through the railway’s office in Farnham, Quebec, about 65 kms (40 miles) east of Montreal, in search of evidence that could help with their investigation into the July 6 tragedy.
Montreal Maine & Atlantic (MMA), a unit of Chicago-based Rail World Inc, operated the train that crashed into Lac-Megantic.
The train, which was hauling 72 tanker cars full of crude oil, and was operated by a single engineer, had been parked for the night on a main line uphill from the lakeside town. After the engineer left, it started rolling downhill, derailed in the center of Lac-Megantic and exploded into a wall of fire.
MMA Chairman Ed Burkhardt was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. In the days after the crash, he publicly questioned whether the engineer had set enough brakes to hold the train in place before he left for the night.
Investigators are still searching the center of Lac-Megantic for clues on the cause of crash. They have said the train’s hand brakes are one focus of their probe. (Reporting by Julie Gordon Editing by Peter Galloway)