At least 22 hurt when Canada mall's roof collapses

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 23, 2012 6:57 PM

(Reuters) - Rescue teams on Sunday were working at a northern Ontario shopping mall after a roof-top parking lot partially collapsed on Saturday afternoon, sending at least one vehicle crashing into the retail shops below and injuring at least 22.

The collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, about 335 miles northwest of Toronto, occurred at 2 p.m., a time when the mall was typically crowded with weekend shoppers. It sent concrete and metal raining into the two-story mall below and left a gaping hole in the roof.

None of the 22 people being treated at local hospitals sustained life-threatening injuries, and no fatalities have been reported, according to a statement issued by the city of Elliot Lake on Sunday morning.

Special teams were on the scene, and search and rescue dogs were being used to look for anyone who may have been trapped in the collapse, the statement said. Authorities said they have compiled a list of people who have been reported missing but would not confirm how many were on the list.

An urban extraction team was called in to assist local emergency teams, which had to suspend work on late Saturday afternoon because of unsafe conditions.

Work resumed later in the evening, but it was not clear if by Sunday afternoon, crews had stabilized the site sufficiently to enter the mall.

"It happened so fast," Elaine Quinte, owner of Hungry Jack's restaurant in the mall, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "All of a sudden I started getting hit by some of the rubble. I turned around. I saw other people in the food court running out of the doors. ... There was instantly so much dust, first you saw, and then you didn't."

Soon after the collapse, Mayor Rick Hamilton declared a state of emergency in the city - a regional center about halfway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie near Lake Huron's remote northern shore.

Kate Matuszewski, a spokeswoman for the city, said one vehicle fell through the roof into the mall as the roof caved in. The collapse also triggered a small gas leak that forced authorities to cut power briefly to the entire community.

Overhead photos taken soon after the collapse showed several vehicles remained parked on the undamaged part of the rooftop lot. The collapse opened up a large, rectangular space and a clear view of the retail space below.

(Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Kenneth Barry)