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François Coutu is president and CEO of Jean Coutu Group Inc.

GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The chief executive of Quebec pharmacy giant Jean Coutu Group Inc. visited the temporary location of his company's store in Lac-Mégantic Tuesday, hours after it opened for the first time since Saturday's rail disaster to again dispense drugs to the public.

Staff had worked overnight to prepare a prescription counter in a new location near the town's Canadian Tire on the main road out of town.

Luckily, none of the 60 store employees were among the 50 missing or confirmed dead from the early Saturday morning derailment, CEO François Coutu, son of the eponymous chain's founder, said in an interview.

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"I told them our thoughts were going to the people in the community here," said Mr. Coutu during a brief coffee stop at the local McDonald's restaurant that has doubled as an informal media centre for visiting reporters.

"It was important for us to get back right away. "I said to them, 'bon courage.' They find it very difficult to return to work in the situation like that. But they want to give their best. It's important for us."

Mr. Coutu did not visit the store, which is still behind police lines, but said a group of employees who were permitted a site visit reported that it suffered smoke and water damage and the building was still standing.

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