Netflix time-travel series uses images from Lac-Mégantic rail disaster

The footage of an apparent nuclear attack in London is not fictional — it's from the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., that killed 47 people and destroyed the centre of the town.

Production company apologizes, will replace footage in episode of Travelers

A still from the Netflix series Travelers which uses footage from the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. The show's producers have apologized and say they will edit out the images. (Netflix/Radio-Canada)

"Nuclear explosion in London," reads the banner on a televised newscast in the Netflix original series Travelers, as smoke fills the sky above fiery wreckage.

But the scene is not fictional — it's real-life footage of the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., that killed 47 people and destroyed the centre of the town.

Guillaume Bouchard pulled out his phone while he was watching the show to double-check that what he was seeing were indeed the images from one of the deadliest rail accidents in Canadian history.

"I said to myself, 'It can't be. They couldn't have done that,'" he told Radio-Canada.

Bouchard took to Facebook to see if anyone else noticed the resemblance.

"It must be someone's job to verify where the images come from," he said.

The images from Lac-Mégantic only appear for a few seconds, but Bouchard hopes their use will prompt Netflix and the show's producers to be more careful.

Production company apologizes

Travelers is a time-travel sci-fi drama made by Canadian and American creators. It is available for streaming on Netflix and broadcast in Canada on Showcase.

Toronto production company Peacock Alley Entertainment said the images were purchased from an archival footage service, and it should not have used them.

"We were not aware where these images were from," said Peacock Alley president Carrie Mudd in an email to Radio-Canada. "We sincerely apologize."

The company said it would edit a new version of the episode.

Netflix declined an interview request from Radio-Canada but said it would update the episode to remove any footage from the disaster.

Lac-Mégantic Mayor Julie Morin says she is satisfied with the decision.

"The good news is that the producer reacted quickly," she said, adding that the use of the footage showed a lack of respect for grieving families.

Robert Bellefleur, a member of a citizens' coalition advocating for rail safety in Lac-Mégantic, set up in the wake of the disaster, said seeing the footage brings back painful memories for residents of the town.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Louis-Philippe Ouimet


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