Waiting for a miracleTuesday, June 26, 2012 by: Carol Martin
As the sun sets behind the Algo Mall in Elliot Lake, hundreds of people stand watching and waiting for a mechanical arm to move.
They are waiting to see the boom of a giant crane that just moved into position, swing out over the gaping hole in the roof of the mall.
It's where a huge chunk of the roof fell in on top of a lottery kiosk on the second floor, through the floor and into a grocery store below that on the first floor shortly after 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Multi-tonne pieces of wreckage from the roof and the smashed floor of the mall perches precariously on a set of stairs and a pair of escalators that linked the second and first floors of the mall in the food court area.
The stairs and the escalators are coming away from the wall and experts on site say they could fall at any time.
That's why rescuers haven't been able to get into the mall to mount a search for victims.
The people gathered on the street in front of the mall know there are at least two people trapped in the debris in the centre of the Algo Mall.
They know there are many who want to help, to get in there and to rescue the person who was tapping as late as yesterday afternoon.
The plan, now, is to use the giant crane brought in from Toronto and assembled on site today to lift the biggest chunks of debris, the escalators and the stairs out of and away from the building.
Search and rescue teams would then go in and remove smaller chunks of debris by hand while the three dog handlers on the scene search for victims of Saturday's disaster.
They plan to work through the night and as long as it takes to do what needs to be done.
The sound of Anishnawbe women singing prayers and playing hand drums can be heard as it begins to get dark and no one goes home.
For many here, it's now becoming a three day vigil and the stress is showing.
They speak in quiet tones, their brows are furrowed and they seem to instinctively seek comfort in each other's presence, some holding hands, some leaning physically on each other and others standing with an arm around the person next to them.
When asked what they need most right now, the overwhelming response has been simply, 'prayers'.
If anyone is giving up hope that they will find only one person dead in the rubble and everyone else alive, they are not giving up that hope without a fight.
SooToday.com will have more on this tomorrow morning.
Additional SooToday.com coverage of this story