Church bells rang out 47 times today to remember each victim of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic, Que., rail derailment.

Today — July 6 — marks the second anniversary of the incident that saw an MM&A train carrying 72 tankers full of oil derail and explode in the town, killing 47 people and destroying much of the downtown core.

The town's mayor says the anniversary is weighing on the minds of residents.

"We felt it was important to provide citizens the opportunity to pause together to remember that tragic night," said Colette Roy Laroche.

Jean Clusiault lost his daughter, Kathy, in the explosion. She was 24 years old.

Lac Mégantic

A solemn mass was held at Sainte-Agnès church the night before the second anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic derailment. (Justin Hayward)

"It's not something you can just forget," said Clusiault.

"Kathy is always in my thoughts. Whenever I go for a walk, I think of my girls ... in my head, I believe Kathy is happy ... wherever I go, I feel that she's doing well." 

At noon Monday, decontamination efforts at the crash site were suspended for a moment of silence.

As well, the bells of Sainte Agnès Church rang once for each victim, and the town will fly its flag at half-mast for the day.

The country reacts

Politicians of all stripes are reaching out to mark the anniversary.

"It takes people of extraordinary strength to overcome such a disaster, and I was privileged to witness first-hand during my visits to Lac-Mégantic the remarkable resilience, pride and spirit of those in the community," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also extended his support for the tight-knit community.

"Two years later, we do not forget the disaster that occurred in Lac-Mégantic. Our thoughts are turning to families and relatives of the victims and to all citizens of the City of Lac-Mégantic," he said.

The leader of the federal NDP, Tom Mulcair, and the leader of the federal Liberals, Justin Trudeau, both offered their condolences.

"Today, let us pause to remember all those who perished in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. My thoughts go out to the many victims, their families, and the entire community, whose lives have been irreparably altered by this devastating incident," said Trudeau.

On this sad anniversary, on behalf of our caucus and party, I want to assure all the relatives of the victims that our thoughts and prayers are with you," said Mulcair.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy Laroche as "Colette Roy."
    Jul 06, 2015 10:12 PM ET