Lac-Mégantic toll rises to 42
Remains of 4 more victims recovered from red-zone
Disaster workers found the remains of four more victims on Thursday in the red zone in Lac-Mégantic, Que., where a train carrying crude oil derailed and set off a series of explosions more than a week ago.
Quebec provincial police Insp. Michel Forget confirmed the official death toll is 42, with eight more people unaccounted for and presumed to be dead.
In a press conference on Thursday, Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said she had received condolences from U.S. President Barack Obama and thanked him for his support.
"I think the people of Lac-Mégantic also appreciate knowing that the American president has sent us his sympathies and his moral support," said Roy-Laroche. "I appreciate it a lot."
The mayor also thanked the population of Quebec for their support, in particular a benefit held in Montreal at Le National theatre on Wednesday night.
President Barack Obama's letter:
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
On behalf of the American people, I write to express my sincere condolences for the terrible tragedy on July 6 at Lac-Megantic, Quebec. We are saddened by the devastating loss of life caused by the train derailment and resulting fire. Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims.
I was heartened that U.S. firefighters were able to support their Canadian counterparts in fighting the blaze, just as Canada has stood by the United States during trying times. Our assistance to one another in dealing with such accidents is a mark of our close friendship and partnership.
My government stands ready to offer any additional support Canada may need in the aftermath of this tragic accident.
Salvation Army asks for food donations
Donations have been flowing in to help those affected by the train disaster, but some immediate needs are falling short.
The Salvation Army is appealing for food donations to help feed more than 100 firefighters and municipal workers working inside the worst-hit area of town.
The Salvation Army has been preparing more than 300 daily meals and snacks for the workers inside the area that has remained off limits to the public for more than a week.
The charity is asking companies that sell bulk food to donate staples like fruit and vegetables, cold cuts, bread and butter and desserts.
The charity is already expecting a donation of $3,000 worth of meat from a Montreal wholesaler.
The Red Cross says about $5.6 million in donations has come in so far to help its disaster relief effort in Lac-Mégantic.
The organization set up an emergency shelter inside a local high school in the hours following the derailment and resulting explosions. It took in more than 500 displaced residents. Most of those residents have been able to return home, except for a few with homes inside the so-called red zone.
The donations are also being used for short-term recovery assistance for funeral and relocations costs, inventory replacement and study grants for those who were forced out of their homes or who had small businesses that were directly affected.
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The Red Cross expects to update its donation total later today to include money gathered by Montreal firefighters during their fundraising drive on Wednesday.
The town of Lac-Mégantic also set up its own relief fund — the Fond L’Avenir Lac Mégantic — with more long-term goals in mind.
Money raised by the fund will be distributed to citizens, commercial establishments and industries in order to help rebuild the community and its devastated downtown core.
"We will raise whatever we can," said Isabelle Gagnon, spokeswoman for the town of Lac-Mégantic.
Any companies interested in donating food to the Salvation Army can contact their Montreal office.
Individuals looking to help are asked to contribute money rather than food.