Can you imagine the anguish of being one of the trapped survivors of this mall collapse and then learn that officials at Elliot Lake were prepared to abandon you and leave you to die? That would have been a national disgrace, especially for a country that rushes to the aid of similar disasters in far off places like Mexico and is only too happy to declare anyone who serves in the military as some form of instant overnight "hero" (although some in the military actually go on to earn that accolade)
Where are the heroes in Elliot Lake? Evidently there aren't any. What a pathetic display of protecting the public's interest on the part of Elliott Lake officials. Thank goodness others gave them a much needed wake up call.
Elliot Lake mall rescue efforts set to resume
'There must be some way … to help get these people out': café owner
Posted: Jun 26, 2012 5:24 AM ET
Last Updated: Jun 26, 2012 8:28 AM ET
However, it remains uncertain when or how the search efforts will happen after emergency officials cautioned at a news conference Monday night that details of the operation remain uncertain.
"We're moving this forward as best we can and as fast as we can," said Elliot Lake fire Chief Paul Officer, adding that rescuers would consider "more extreme measures," including demolishing some areas of the badly damaged Algo Centre Mall.
'I believe we owe it to the families waiting for word of their loved ones to leave no stone unturned.'—Dalton McGuinty, Ontario premierBut Officer said rescue crews will be unable to reach the spot where breathing was detected underneath the rubble in the mall.
"The rules of engagement still haven't changed when it comes to allowing rescuers in there," he said. "Any plan we can come up with will have to be executed before we can hopefully get back in."
At least one person was killed — although no name has been released — after part of the building's roof caved in on Saturday afternoon, sending metal and concrete plunging two storeys to the mall floor.
The CBC's Natalie Kalata reported Tuesday morning that rescuers are trying to figure out a new way to reach anyone who may still be inside the mall, and that it's unknown whether this would be a rescue or recovery mission.
"People are on pins and needles," Kalata said.
"Last night, people were singing and holding up candlelight, and they were really hoping that somebody would be found alive inside," she said, adding that residents of the community are relieved that the search efforts will resume.
John Quinte, who owns a café in the mall, is among members of the community waiting to hear if friends and loved ones are safe after the roof's partial cave-in.
Quinte told CBC News on Tuesday morning that he narrowly escaped being caught in the dangerous circumstances because he went home before the roof's partial collapse. He said he has been camping out near the mall since the weekend because "everybody in this community is like family."
Quinte and other members of the community are frustrated by the slow pace of the rescue work.
"We don't want anybody to risk their life and die, but there must be some way that we can do something to help get these people out of here without risking everybody's life."
Number of missing unknownOfficials said they detected "signs of life" earlier Monday inside the mall but they did not know the status of that person when the search was called off later in the day.
Ontario Provincial Police Insp. Percy Jollymore said officers were still trying to determine how many people are missing.
A list of names submitted by concerned citizens has been fluctuating dramatically since the accident, he said, adding at least two have remained constant.
"We do have two names of people who are known to be in the mall," Jollymore said. "Their names have never disappeared on the list."
Rescue efforts were halted after the site was deemed too dangerous, with the possibility of another collapse, provoking anger among many residents who felt that officials could do more to help those trapped inside.
The news of the renewed effort — only hours after it was initially called off — came as McGuinty said he had spoken to Emergency Management Ontario and the search and rescue team. McGuinty said he asked if there was any other way to reach victims without endangering rescuers, including the use of equipment to dismantle the building from the outside.
"I believe we owe it to the families waiting for word of their loved ones to leave no stone unturned. We owe that to the people of Elliot Lake too. Ontarians expect nothing less," he said.
Residents protest at city hallNews that search efforts would resume was met with a chorus of screams and whistles Monday night from a group of residents who had gathered outside the mall in Elliot Lake, located 150 kilometres west of Sudbury.
Some people had protested in front of city hall when the search was initially called off. More than 50 people have added their names to a list of people willing to enter the building if the official operation doesn't happen, CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp reported.
In the aftermath of the collapse, many residents said the mall has had a history of problems dating back to 2005, including roof leaks, flooding and falling tiles.
Mall manager Rhonda Bear has said repairs were conducted on the building but not on the section that collapsed, adding that an engineering and structural study completed last month turned up nothing.
Elliot Lake mall collapse (CBC Infographic)