2014 Breaking News, Medium Newsroom finalist

Lac-Mégantic Explosion


About the Project

It was worse than anyone’s worst nightmare: the centre of town, an entire generation of residents, were decimated in a few seconds. No one had time to fully understand the severity of the situation. No one had time to escape.

The air smelled of acrid smoke, the water was slick with contaminants and everyone held their breaths, hoping that their loved one was simply away for the weekend and not in fact among the 47 nearly unrecognisable victims in the “Red Zone.”

In the days immediately after the derailment and explosion that levelled the core of Lac-Megantic and killed dozens of people, our team sought to help readers fully understand the scope, the sadness and the anger that was left in the wake of the blasts.

Our small team on the ground quickly moved to try and gather as many stories from the ground as we could: presenting audio and video interviews with survivors, raw tape of the blasts, photos and memories of the victims.

The scope of the disaster was most striking in the before and after pictures. Our team worked to juxtapose the two images in sliders and zoom features, take people inside the red zone and explain just what was lost though personal stories.

As the search for victims progressed, our people on the ground worked to gather photos of those confirmed dead and our multimedia team quickly built and interactive feature that helped put the scale of the human loss into perspective.

And as the difficult questions emerged about the circumstances surrounding the disaster, our team worked to develop a timeline explaining the events leading up to the blast and the political and legal fallout after.

We kept readers informed through live blogs, live streams, breaking stories, interactive elements, infographics and in-depth reporting and presented it all in a package helped our audience understand all sides of the tragedy.