Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

One feared dead after roof collapse

The damage after a roof collapsed at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario (AP/The Canadian Press, Cora Richer)

At least one person is feared dead and another trapped inside the rubble of a roof collapse at a shopping centre in northern Ontario, authorities said.

More than 24 hours after the collapse, rescue workers have been unable to reach the victim because the structure is too unstable. But images taken with a camera show a hand and foot in the dusty debris, said Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Percy Jollymore.

Fire officials heard tapping in another part of the rubble, but nothing had 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 far enough inside.

Police have a list of nine people missing since the collapse, but the names are being crossed off as members of the community account for their loved ones.

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

A special emergency crew is working to stabilise the scene, but authorities said the process could take hours.

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

Emergency officials quickly cleared out the mall and closed surrounding roads. Mayor Rick Hamilton declared a state of emergency.

The two-level mall in this northern Ontario community is approximately 200,000 square feet. It houses a grocery store, restaurants, a number of retail outlets, a hotel, and the constituency office for a member of the provincial parliament.

Rhonda Bear, a spokeswoman for the mall, which is run by Eastwood Mall Incorporated, referred all questions on the collapse and the condition of the mall to its lawyer, who could not immediately be reached for comment. "All our concern right now is our prayers are with the families," Ms Bear said.

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