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The Globe and Mail

Grieving Lac-Mégantic families gather for emotional moment of silence

Two women embrace inside Ste-Agnès Church in Lac-Mégantic, Que. on July 13, 2013.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Fifty chimes from the church bell rang out slowly at noon in Lac-Mégantic, while the families of the missing from the rail derailment disaster gathered on the front steps of Ste-Agnès Roman Catholic church for an emotional moment of silence.

Some embraced while holding photographs of their loved ones, while others simply stood and looked toward where the downtown core used to be -- and where the remains of the missing might still be found.

Lise Doyon buried her face into the shoulder of her partner, Jeannot Labrecque, who held a photograph of her son, Kevin Roy, 29.

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Mr. Roy was with his partner, Marianne Poulin, when the tragedy struck.

"The worst thing is that we haven't found him yet," said Ms. Doyon.

Mr. Labrecque, a paramedic, responded to the disaster scene last Saturday from his home in Lambton, Que.

"I've saved people my entire life," he said, "But I could not save theirs."

Martin Champagne lost his sister Karine Champagne in the blast that destroyed the popular bar Musi-Café.

"I had to leave everything, my whole life in Calgary," Mr. Champagne said. "I'm here today for my sister, Karine. She left a week ago and she never came back and I still can't believe she's gone.

"I haven't slept in two days because I've been with her two beautiful children the whole time."

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Other townspeople and visitors stood nearby, some holding flowers.

Hélène Draper placed a small white cross and some flowers near the base of a large statue of Christ on the church's front lawn, which was later joined by a photograph of Ms. Doyon's son. A dozen white doves were also released one by one into the sky.

Inside Ste-Agnès church, a memorial of flowers, photographs and other personal items continues to grow. Paper hearts with messages written by visitors, many of them children, covered several walls.

On Friday, Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche announced that people would be able to visit the church at any time of the day or night and volunteers would be on hand to speak to the residents.

Volunteer Nicole Dubé, a former Sunday school teacher, said she has seen many children she knows come to the church to leave messages. Ms. Dubé's family is also grieving -- her husband lost a niece last Saturday.

"I wrote my message of love to the town of Lac-Mégantic," she said. "I also saw a young boy bring a printout of his hockey team's lineup and sign it 'Goodbye coach. We will miss you.'"

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