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Cause of Canada bus crash could be mechanical

October 18, 1997

QUEBEC (AP) _ The worst bus crash in Canadian history appears to have been caused by mechanical defects, police said Friday.

Investigators examining the mangled remains of the tour bus that plunged into a ravine earlier this week, killing 43 people, have found ``irregularities,″ said Richard Bourdon, a provincial police spokesman. He declined to elaborate.

``Parts will be sent to a specialized lab for a precise analysis of the problem,″ Bourdon said.

The tragedy occurred Monday at the foot of a steep hill along the St. Lawrence River, about 45 miles northeast of Quebec City.

Witnesses said they saw smoke coming from near the vehicle’s tires shortly before it missed a sharp turn, crashed through a guardrail and landed on its side in the ravine.

A bus crash along the same curve in 1974 killed 13 people.

The victims were to be buried in funerals Friday and Sunday.

A public memorial service was held Thursday in St-Bernard. Forty-two elderly victims of the crash resided in the tiny village, about 20 miles south of Quebec City.

Church bells there, which have been ringing since Tuesday, will toll 42 times hourly from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the weekend.

Tests on the body of the 29-year-old driver, Andre Desruisseaux, found no trace of alcohol, drugs or medication, the coroner said Friday.

Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, who met with mourners Thursday at the village school after the service, said the deadly road will be fixed ``whatever the cost.″

Hospital officials said one of the five crash survivors was released from intensive care Friday and was improving. Another woman and three men were still on respirators.

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