March 14, 2008 / 12:24 AM / in 10 years

Three Canadians dead after snowy roof collapses

TORONTO (Reuters) - A four-hour rescue effort failed to save three women trapped in a warehouse in the Canadian province of Quebec after its roof caved in, likely due to heavy snow, police said on Thursday.

<p>Firefighters work at the scene, where the roof of a bakery warehouse collapsed, in Morin Heights, Quebec March 12, 2008. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>

Firefighters battled for several hours on Wednesday to put out a fire sparked by the collapse of the bakery warehouse roof in the ski town of Morin Heights, northwest of Montreal.

Emergency workers subsequently found the women, ages 46, 54 and 62, under debris.

Initially, police said the women were “badly injured.” Several hours later, police told community members that the victims had been declared dead in hospital.

Sgt. Joyce Kemp, a spokeswoman for Surete du Quebec, said no autopsies have been ordered at this point and investigations are under way by police and by a government agency that probes workplace accidents.

She said accumulation of heavy snow on the roof was likely to blame.

Some media reports have suggested workers warned the owners of the Gourmet du Village warehouse that the roof looked unstable due to snow.

“It’s part of the investigation,” Kemp said.

Police said about 30 people were inside the building when the roof collapsed just before 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) on Wednesday.

The Gourmet du Village is a 25-year-old family business that that employs as many as 150 people in Morin Heights, a community of 3,600.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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