Elliot Lake officials, OPP, tight-lipped about mall roof collapseSunday, June 24, 2012 by: Carol Martin
It's been 10 hours since a section of the roof of a busy shopping mall - the only shopping mall - in the City of Elliot Lake collapsed on its food court.
There is still very little information about the number and nature of possible injuries, deaths or individuals that may be missing, nor is there information about what may have caused the roof of the mall to collapse on a warm sunny afternoon in the small Northern Ontario town.
Across the region friends and families of 11,000 people in Elliot Lake worry about their loved ones and wonder what happened to bring down that section of the roof that also functioned as a parking area for mall patrons and employees.
An urban extraction team has been on site at the 30-year old Algo Mall since earlier this evening but there is still very little more information about the collapse of a section of the mall roof about 2 p.m. on Saturday.
"Police and special teams continue working at the scene," says an OPP update from 11:50 p.m. Saturday. "No further updates will be available until 7 a.m. June 24th, 2012."
The Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team has been deployed out of Toronto and is expected to arrive in Elliot Lake about 2 a.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile witness reports of injuries and possible deaths continue to circulate through Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites.
Also circulating through Northern Ontario's information sources are concerns that the part of the roof of the mall that collapsed had been showing signs of wear, including rusting girders that apparently broke during the collapse and an obvious slope to the rooftop parking area.
Earlier this evening, Elliot Lake's Mayor Rick Hamilton said that a gas leak had been confirmed in the area of the collapsed roof and that had prevented crews from entering the area for several hours after the collapse.
Emergency responders at the scene have primarily been engaged in securing the site, Hamilton said.
He said the urban extraction team would be better equipped and trained to enter the building and inspect the area of the collapse.
He also said four people were sent to hospital after the collapse of the roof on the mall.
There is no official word on the reports that there are people missing who may have been in the mall at the time of its collapse.