Lac-Megantic victims mourned

Citizens of Lac-Megantic gathered in Sainte-Agnes church for a candlelight vigil, Friday, July 12,...

Citizens of Lac-Megantic gathered in Sainte-Agnes church for a candlelight vigil, Friday, July 12, 2013. (DIDIER DEBUSSCHERE/QMI AGENCY)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

MONTREAL - Five more bodies have been pulled from the wreckage in Lac-Megantic, Que., bringing the official death toll to 33, provincial police said Saturday afternoon.

The 17 other people still missing are presumed dead.

The Quebec coroner's office released the names of seven more victims Saturday night: Frederic Boutin, 19; Kathy Clusiault, 24; Elodie Turcotte, 18; Yannick Bouchard, 36; Karine Lafontaine, 35; Maxime Dubois, 27; and Melissa Roy, 29.

Eliane Parenteau, 93, was the first victim identified, earlier in the week.

Another name is expected to be released Monday.

Provincial police Insp. Michel Forget said Saturday that the search for remains in the disaster zone in Lac-Megantic is slow and the fumes from the spilled crude are making breathing difficult, particularly in the hot sun.

"Imagine a building of two storeys and then reduce it to bricks -- that's how complex our search is," he said. "And then add to that the heat, and the fact that the place we're looking at was a gathering spot."

Authorities confirmed Saturday that the chairman of the company that owned the train that derailed and exploded last weekend, Ed Burkhardt, cancelled his scheduled trip back to Lac-Megantic.

He reportedly didn't feel welcome.

Lac-Megantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche told reporters that she didn't have any comment regarding Burkardt's cancellation.

However, provincial police weren't as vague: Burkhardt was refused accreditation to enter the zone devastated by the train derailment.

"(Burkhardt) has no business there," Forget said on Saturday.

And as the recovery effort continued, Roy-Laroche said that the 200 people who still cannot return home and who have not found alternative lodging will on Tuesday be relocated from the emergency shelter.

Roy-Laroche confirmed that the town council unanimously passed a resolution asking the provincial government to extend the mandates of Lac-Megantic's elected representatives for two years.

Roy-Laroche said the town's officials don't have time to campaign for the November municipal elections.

The local church, Paroisse de Ste-Agnes has become a centre of mourning for the small community, with residents leaving flowers, pictures, notes and other mementos.

It chimed its bells 50 times at noon Saturday, to commemorate the 50 people killed in last weekend's derailment.

A minute of silence followed.

The parish priest, Steve Lemay, told reporters Saturday that what the people needed most at the moment was "calm, we need serenity, to allow people to mourn, which is something that is quite difficult right now."

People across Quebec are looking for ways to help victims and remember the dead. However, provincial police and Lac-Megantic's mayor are cautioning against planning events that the small town of 6,000 can't yet handle.

-with files from Reuters.


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