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Netflix has apologized to Lac-Mégantic for using footage of rail disaster in ‘Bird Box’

Last week, Netflix was accused of using footage from a rail disaster in Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic in the original hit flick Bird Box. Now, the streaming service has issued an apology to the residents of the town.

In 2013, a train carrying 74 cars of crude oil derailed, causing many of the runaway rail cars to explode and catch fire. After the disaster was over, 47 people had been killed, and 30 buildings, which is nearly half of the town’s downtown core, were destroyed. It’s still known as one of the worst rail disasters in the history of Canada.

According to CBC, Netflix director of global public policy Corie Wright wrote an open letter to the town, stating that the company did not know the source of the clips. “We apologize to the Lac-Mégantic community and to Netflix members who were saddened by seeing this footage,” Wright stated.

However, Netflix announced last week that it wouldn’t be removing the footage from Bird Box, despite the controversy. According to CBC, the letter indicates the way that stock footage and images are used on Netflix and other services, and that the widespread use of the footage has prevented the service from being able to change the completed film.

Lac-Mégantic spokesperson Karine Dubé did reveal that the streaming giant had reached out to municipal officials last Thursday to request a meeting with the mayor.

Footage of the disaster was also used in the television show Travelers, whose production company, Peacock Alley Entertainment in Toronto, explained to The Globe And Mail that it had been acquired through stock image vendor Pond 5 in New York City.

Peacock alley has already apologized for using footage of the disaster, indicating that they “had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013,” in a statement. Additionally, Pond 5 CEO Jason Teichman told CBC that they are now working on a way to ensure customers understand the context of the media they sell before purchasing it.

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