Rescuers stand by as hope fades at collapsed Canada mall

Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:35pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Rescue workers waited on Tuesday for specialized equipment to arrive at a collapsed shopping mall in the northern Ontario town of Elliot Lake, anxious to restart a three-day-old search for survivors as hope faded that anyone would be found alive.

"We all understand the urgency and the need to save anyone who may still be trapped beneath the rubble while keeping rescuers safe," Elliot Lake Mayor Rick Hamilton said.

Rescue authorities said the chance that anyone remained alive under piles of concrete and metal was "very slim," noting the last time any signs of life were detected was early Monday morning when audio equipment picked up sounds of breathing.

One person is confirmed dead and another is believed to have died in the collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, about 335 miles northwest of Toronto.

At least 22 people were injured in the incident, none seriously. Police said 12 people were unaccounted for, a list that had shrunk from 30 earlier in the rescue effort.

"We still cannot determine how many people are there," Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Percy Jollymore told a news conference.

Authorities were focusing mostly on two missing people whose vehicles were found in the mall's parking lot.

Signs of life including tapping had been detected on Monday morning, but rescue crews suspended search efforts late on Monday because the two-story structure was deemed unstable.

Elliot Lake resident Gary Gendron said he believes his fiancée Lucie Aylwin, who worked at a lottery kiosk in the mall, is still alive under the rubble because the couple routinely tapped a code to each other to show their love.   Continued...