Workers search for victims of Canada roof collapse


Monday 25 June 2012 18:22

Rescuers workers have confirmed one person has died but believe there might be another person still alive in the rubble following a roof collapse at a mall in Northern Ontario.

Bill Needles, a spokesman from the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team, said Monday crews used a remote device called the life detector to determine a person was breathing as of 4 a.m. this morning.

Needle says the location is the same where they heard some tapping in the rubble Sunday. But he says the area is unstable and rescuers had to retreat.

Needle says the person who died in another location is the same one whose hand and foot were visible in images captured by a remote camera. At least 22 people suffered minor injuries in Saturday afternoon's collapse.

Elliott Lake Mayor Rick Hamilton said workers are still removing the debris. Officials were using two cranes in the stabilization efforts, more than 40 hours after the collapse occurred.

"Nobody has given me an indication on when it's too late," Hamilton said in a telephone interview. "We're working under the premise that it is a rescue. They are going to work as diligently as they can and as carefully as they can."

Officials said on Sunday night it would take until Monday morning before the area was deemed safe enough for rescue teams to return. Images taken with a remote camera show a hand and foot in the dusty debris, said Ontario Provincial Police Insp. Percy Jollymore

Fire officials heard tapping on Sunday morning in another part of the rubble, but nothing has been heard for hours. They said they also tried to reach that person by drilling through a wall, but found the structure too unsafe to risk entering.

Police compiled a list of nine people missing since the collapse Saturday, but the names were being crossed off as members of the community accounted for their loved ones. Hamilton said he didn't have an update on how many remain missing.

Bianka Manning, a teacher from the local French high school, said she feared a former high school classmate may be trapped among the wreckage.

Manning said her friend worked at the mall's lottery kiosk, but she didn't know if she was inside the mall when the roof caved in. Manning and two of her students spent all of Sunday night sitting outside the mall wrapped in blankets, waiting for news.

Two kiosks selling lottery tickets, cigarettes and magazines were located in the area where the roof caved in and were open before the roof collapse, eyewitnesses said.

At least 22 people suffered minor injuries in the collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake.

A portion of the roof that serves as a parking area crumbled down two floors into an area near the food court on Saturday afternoon, leaving behind a gaping hole which was 12 meters (39 feet) by 24 meters (79 feet). It also downed hydro lines and triggered a gas leak.


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