One store destroyed, other survives rail blast

Dollarama in Lac-Megantic obliterated in explosion but a nearby Metro escapes

A Metro supermarket in downtown Lac-Megantic, Que., site of this weekend’s deadly rail explosion, miraculously escaped damage, says a spokesperson for the Montreal-based chain.

But a Dollarama that was also in the vicinity of the explosion was totally destroyed, spokesperson Lyla Radmanovic said.

The Dollarama's 15 employees were all accounted for and unharmed.

The bargain retail chain has sent field managers to inspect the damage, Radmanovic said, and staff have an employee assistance program hotline to call if they needed help.

Staff would continue being paid for at least the next four weeks, she said, while the company evaluated the situation and tried to determine if and when it would rebuild.

Lac-Megantic, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, was devastated by an explosion that occurred early Saturday morning by an unmanned, runaway freight train filled with crude oil.

The train somehow rolled into town after its engineer had locked it for the night and retired while weekend revelers were partying in town.

The multiple blasts after Saturday's derailment sent people fleeing as the explosions rocked the municipality of 6,000, about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.

The Metro store on Frontenac Boulevard was right in the disaster zone.

Metro's public affairs spokesperson Genevieve Gregoire said though the store was unscathed, it had no power and perishables were a complete write-off.

Gregoire had no estimate of the value of the food retailer's losses but said its 100 employees had all been found unharmed and would be paid through their present work schedule.

A spokesman for the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad, which operated the train, alleged Monday that someone had tampered with one of five locomotives, causing the brakes to fail and sending the 72 cars, each with more than 100,000 litres of crude oil, hurtling into the town.

As of Monday afternoon, police said that five bodies had been found and 40 people remained missing.

Canadian Press reported yesterday that in addition to the dollar store, a grocery store has also been destroyed in the blast. The news service did not identify the name of the store.

Lac-Megantic is also home to a Walmart and a Maxi discount store but it appeared that these stores were on the other side of town from the explosion.

There was no word from Loblaw whether its Maxi store suffered any damage.

Walmart said that its Lac-Mégantic store was not affected by the fire and is open for business. Its 76 employees were also reported safe.

Rosalyn Carneiro, a Walmart spokesperson, said that on Monday the retailer launched an in-store fundraising campaign at all its Quebec stores to support the Canadian Red Cross Lac-Mégantic Explosions Appeal.

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