Police partially lift curtain on Lac-Megantic devastation

LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. – The devastated inner core of Lac-Megantic has been opened up today for the first public viewing of what witnesses have likened to a “war zone.”

News media were allowed to observe and gather images this morning for the first time inside the security perimeter.

Until now, access has been limited to authorities and a few politicians — including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had compared it to a site ravaged by war.

Police now say they want the broader public to see what happened to the site.

The close-up, hour-long tour revealed a scene worse than imagined and gave an idea of just how much destruction the oil tankers wrought on the centre of the town.

A busload of journalists were taken to witness flattened buildings, twisted heaps of metal, and trees reduced to sticks of charcoal.

The rail tankers, once filled with crude oil, were misshapen and piled together, still steaming with heat more than a week after the explosions.

Police gave strict instructions about what images could be shown for fear of upsetting the families of victims, or compromising the investigation.

Only one TV video journalist, one web video journalist, and one photographer were allowed inside the perimeter.

The images and details gathered this morning will now be released to the public.