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July 11, 2013

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Quebec oil-train derailment site a crime scene

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) — Quebec police are pursuing a painstaking, wide-ranging criminal investigation of the inferno ignited by the derailment of a runaway oil train that killed at least 15 people and left dozens missing in the burned-out ruins of a downtown district.

Quebec police inspector Michel Forget ruled out terrorism as a cause, but said Tuesday that an array of other possibilities remain under investigation, including criminal negligence. Other officials have raised the possibility that the train was tampered with before the crash early Saturday.

“This is an enormous task ahead of us,” Forget said. “We’re not at the stage of arrests.”

The heart of the town’s central business district is being treated as a crime scene and remained cordoned off by police tape — not only the 30 buildings razed by the fire but also many adjacent blocks.

Investigators continued searching for the missing, fearing three dozen more bodies are buried in the downtown area closest to the tracks. The death toll rose to 15 with the discovery of two more bodies Tuesday.

Details in airliner probe raise questions

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) — Investigators are trying to understand whether automated cockpit equipment Asiana flight 214’s pilots say they were relying on to control the airliner’s speed may have contributed to the plane’s dangerously low and slow approach just before it crashed.

New details in the accident investigation that were revealed Tuesday by National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman were not conclusive about the cause of Saturday’s crash, but they raised potential areas of focus: Was there a mistake made in setting the automatic speed control, did it malfunction or were the pilots not fully aware of what the plane was doing?

One of the most puzzling aspects of the crash has been why the wide-body Boeing 777 jet came in far too low and slow, clipping its landing gear and then its tail on a rocky seawall just short the runway. The crash killed two of the 307 people and injured scores of others, most not seriously.

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