One month after a train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., provincial police are turning over control of the disaster zone, at the centre of town.
Tuesday morning, Quebec provincial police officers inspected each building inside the restricted perimeter one more time before handing over control of the site to the municipality.
- Interactive Map: Photos from inside the Lac-Mégantic disaster zone
A private security firm hired by the town will patrol the area and ensure no one enters the zone that remains restricted.
"For everyone’s safety, anyone attempting to enter the area without authorization, for whatever reason, could face criminal charges," Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Martine Asselin said.
She said ongoing excavation and cleanup work with heavy machinery is still taking place on the site and access remains limited for security reasons.
Tuesday marked exactly one month since the unmanned Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train rolled down the hill from where it was parked in nearby Nantes, derailed and exploded in the town core.
In total, 47 people are officially missing or dead. Work is still underway at the coroner’s lab in Montreal to identify the outstanding missing, but a search of the site ended last week after officials came forward and said there was nothing salvageable left at the scene.
Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said this morning her first thoughts are with "the families of the victims."
"It's very difficult for the entire community," she said.
"Even highlighting the very good initiatives that have been put in place in the last few weeks to allow us to start over, to find a bit of happiness, we still have an enormous task to accomplish."
According to the mayor, the lingering sense of injustice is ever present and many questions remain unanswered for the community.
Several investigations are still underway, including ones led by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Quebec provincial police, which are looking into the cause and culpability in the derailment.