News reports said at least one person is dead and approximately a dozen people were still missing following a roof collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Saturday.
Officials said they have not heard signs of life from the rubble since Monday, when an x-ray-like machine reportedly detected someone breathing.
Various news outlets report that heavy machinery, including “sophisticated robotics,” are aiding in the search for survivors due to unsafe conditions at the site; see ‘Heavy machinery’ to aid search for survivors of Canada mall collapse.
Reports indicate the equipment will be used to push the mall’s escalator back and away from the victims. Rescue officials have also indicated there is a “high probability” that the whole structure will come down.
Officials cautioned that information about the missing continue to fluctuate. “We still cannot determine how many people are there,” Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Percy Jollymore told the Toronto Star, “We just don’t know.”
In a story posted on its website Tuesday, the Star said high-tech equipment with an articulating arm that can function “transformer like” to “reach up and over the structure and put itself down on the floor” was on its way to the site late Tuesday. The equipment could be positioned near the area where victims were thought to be located, the story said.
Other news reports said the mall has had a history of problems dating back several years, including roof leaks, flooding and falling tiles. A mall manager was quoted as saying repairs have been carried out on the building, but not where the collapse occurred. The report said a recent engineering and structural study indicated no problems.
Elliott Lake Mayor Rick Hamilton said in a press conference that the city received reports at approximately 2:13 p.m. June 23 that two floors of the mall’s rooftop parking garage tumbled down through multiple levels of the mall. Metal and concrete debris crashed down, and debris could be seen near escalators, food-court tables and lottery kiosks. The collapse caused a gas leak that forced emergency officials to cut power to the mall.
News videos on the roof collapse can be viewed at Elliott Lake Mall Roof Collapse and Mall Roof Collapse at Algo Centre Mall.