June 27, 2012 9:31 AM ET
Searchers have recovered a second body today from a partially collapsed mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., after locating the first one this morning following hours of searching using advanced machinery.
Bill Neadles of Heavy Urban Search and Rescue in Toronto told a news conference Wednesday around 1:15 p.m. ET that the second body was found near a wall in Algo Centre Mall, not far from where the first body was found about four hours earlier.
Neadles described in detail how a major piece of equipment with a robotic arm was aided by two secondary pieces of equipment to slowly carve a path into the mall and methodically tear down parts of the building. Canine units helped recover the two bodies, although their names haven’t been released.
Dan Hefkey, chief and assistant deputy minister at Emergency Management Ontario, earlier told reporters the body of the first person who was recovered was taken to an area near the search site for the coroner “to attend to the remains.”
“We have already spoken with the families of this as well,” Hefkey said, adding there’s still hope they will find survivors.
OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis told a later briefing that “there are no signs of life right now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t somebody alive in there.”
CBC’s Natalie Kalata said from the scene Wednesday that rescue workers took off their helmets and hard hats in a show of respect to the first person whose body was found, “and that really hit the community hard.”
Earlier, she reported, “We know there were two people trapped in the rubble —we have only heard reports and seen evidence of one person being removed.”
Search resumed after outcry
Before the intense overnight mall-dismantling efforts began, at least one person had been confirmed dead after the roof-top parking lot of the mall caved in Saturday afternoon, sending metal and concrete debris crashing through two floors of the building in Elliot Lake, a former mining community of about 11,000 people that is 150 kilometres west of Sudbury.
Another 12 people had remained unaccounted for, down from the 30 officials earlier estimated were missing. However, Lewis said the number of people still missing hasn’t been confirmed.
Hefkey had said early Wednesday morning that using the robotic arm on equipment from a Toronto construction firm, crews were able to move a massive section of an escalator and stairs that had prevented rescue workers from entering the mall.
The search for any survivors resumed late Tuesday after it had been halted Monday when it was believed there was a danger to people involved in rescue efforts, and there was public outcry and pressure from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to resume the mission.
At the Wednesday mid-morning news conference, Lewis defended the halt and the resumption of the search, saying that earlier in the efforts, workers were doing their best in a quick way to find any survivors.
Lewis said “this is a tragedy that I’m sure has affected everybody in this community.” He added that based on earlier reports that the mall was old and on the verge of collapse for a long time, there will most likely be an investigation of some type.
“Between the OPP and the Ministry of Labour … that will all be examined, and if there was something done wrong here, we’ll deal with it.
“The priority isn’t that piece right now. It’s to continue what we’re doing.”
Residents express frustration
Kalata said many residents who have been at the disaster site since Saturday have been frustrated and angry that they aren’t hearing updates about the search efforts in a timely fashion.
One resident reacting to the news that a body was recovered said, “Where’s the rest of the people who are on the list” of persons believed to be missing?
The search and recovery efforts have involved teams from private interests and various levels of government, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper also pledging military help if needed.
But the added human and equipment arsenal only came after intense criticism from residents.
In an interview in the early afternoon Wednesday, Hefkey told CBC News that the search was suspended temporarily because two structural engineers assessed the situation, and determined it wasn’t safe for either any possible survivors or search crew.
“The equipment the rescue team had at that time was insufficient,” said Hefkey. “That’s when the staff inspectir asked for further assistance and that’s where he reached out to me. That led to the bringing in of three immense cranes.”
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he loses his heart’s desire = CS = 31 = Controversy. Things get out of hand.
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