Police in Canada's Quebec province said Wednesday that the death toll in last weekend's train derailment and explosion in the town of Lac-Megantic remains at 15 but they raised to 60 the number of people reported missing in the wake of the disaster.
Provincial police spokesman Michel Forger said at a press conference that while the number of bodies recovered at the site of the explosion of the train loaded with petroleum "has not changed," the list of those reported missing has grown from 50 to 60.
The number of missing is continually changing and the final tally could vary "up or down," Forger said.
The spokesman did not say if investigators are scheduled to meet with Edward Burkhardt, the president of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railways company, which operated the train that derailed and then blew up in the center of town, destroying dozens of buildings, including a reportedly crowded bar.
Burkhardt, who was scheduled to travel on Wednesday to Lac-Megantic, said that he had received many threatening messages since the accident.
Canadian authorities have provided the executive with a police escort.
Police announced Tuesday that they had opened a criminal investigation into the accident.
During Wednesday's press conference, the spokesperson for the Quebec medical examiner's office, Geneviève Guilbault, revealed that due to the condition of the bodies recovered so far, none of the 15 victims whose remains were found in the ground zero area of the huge explosion and fire had been able to be identified.
The accident occurred about 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning when a convoy of tanker cars loaded with petroleum but without an engineer on board derailed in downtown Lac-Megantic, a town of about 6,000 residents east of Montreal.
Some of the train's 72 cars exploded and destroyed around 30 buildings, including a bar in which - according to witnesses - there were between 30 and 50 people. EFE