Montreal

Sept-Îles train derailment: Divers find body of engineer Enrick Gagnon

Police divers on Saturday morning found the body of train engineer Enrick Gagnon, the sole person aboard a freight train that derailed in Quebec earlier this week.

Engineer Enrick Gagnon was only person on board train when a landslide caused train to derail

The body of a train engineer killed in a derailment was found Saturday morning by police divers. 1:49

Police divers on Saturday morning found the body of train engineer Enrick Gagnon, the sole person aboard a freight train that derailed in Quebec earlier this week.

The freight train was towing 240 cars and three locomotives when it derailed Thursday due to an apparent landslide.

The train derailed and slid into the Moisie River. (Radio-Canada)

Gagnon, 45, was found on Saturday morning inside the train’s engine room, inside the lead locomotive that ended up completely submerged in the Moisie River.

His Facebook page lists him as being from, and living in, Sept-Îles, Que.

Gagnon had worked for the Iron Ore Company of Canada, the owner of the train, since 1997.

However, according to Innu Chief Réal McKenzie, the incident could have been far worse had Thursday been like any other day.

Passenger train normally goes first

Mackenzie, the chief of the Innu nation in Schefferville, said three different trains use the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway (QNS&L).

He said the passenger train from Sept-Îles to Schefferville usually leaves first on Thursday mornings, while the freight train waits.

Réal McKenzie, the chief of the Innu in Schefferville, Que., said normally the passenger train goes first. Had it done so on Thursday, there could have been far more casualties. (CBC)

Mackenzie doesn’t know why the empty cargo train left the station first ahead of the passenger train this week.

He said the engineer had no way of knowing about the landslide that caused the derailment because it happened overnight.

The train requires two kilometres of track to stop, making it impossible to avoid derailing, Mackenzie said.

He said the passenger train would have certainly met the same fate had it gone ahead of the freight train.

"There were 45 passengers on board," Mackenzie said, referring to the passenger train.

Fuel leaked into Moisie River

The train's lead locomotive had a capacity of 17,000 litres and ended up fully submerged in the Moisie River.

The locomotive behind it, which also had a capacity of 17,000 litres, was partially submerged.

It was unclear how many litres it contained at the time of the accident near Sept-Îles, about 900 kilometres from Montreal.

A spokesman for the Quebec Environment Department did not know how much diesel was in the river, although he said oil extended for about 20 kilometres out from shore.

An IOC spokeswoman said initial information indicates a landslide caused the derailment in the largely inaccessible area.

Divers were unable to get into the water on Friday because it was too dark after the land near the river had been declared safe.

IOC issues statement

Iron Ore Company of Canada issued a statement Saturday afternoon offering its condolences.

"It’s a sad day for the IOC and for Rio Tinto," said company president Kelly Sanders. "There is nothing more important for us than the security and well-being of our employees."

"Railway traffic on the QNS&L remains suspended until further notice and investigations into the incident are ongoing," the statement said.

With files from The Canadian Press