Anxiety plagues Lac-Megantic residents years after rail tragedy

LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. -- A new report says Lac-Megantic residents were still suffering nearly 30 months after a train derailment killed 47 people in July 2013.

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The survey, which was conducted last fall, suggests anxiety problems were twice as frequent in the Quebec town as they were in the rest of the geographical region in which it is located.

As well, psychological distress affected about one person out of three in Lac-Megantic, compared with one out of five elsewhere.

The study also indicates that 67 per cent of Lac-Megantic residents showed signs of moderate or severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that was virtually non-existent in the rest of the region.

The telephone survey of 1,600 people included a sample of 261 Lac-Megantic residents.

Much of Lac-Megantic's downtown core was obliterated when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded, resulting in the 47 deaths.

A criminal case involving three men accused of 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death in connection with the tragedy will resume April 4.

The Crown said last December a trial date for train driver Tom Harding, railway traffic controller Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre, the manager of train operations, could be set that day.

The three have all pleaded not guilty and opted for a jury trial.

A charge of criminal negligence carries a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction.

Defunct rail company Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) also faces the 47 charges.


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