TORONTO (Reuters) - The roof of a busy shopping mall in northern Ontario partially collapsed on Saturday, creating a gaping hole that left shop fronts open to the sky, officials said.
The collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, about 335 miles northwest of Toronto, occurred at about 2 p.m. EDT, a peak time for weekend shopping. The roof of the two-story mall serves as an open-air parking lot for the shops below.
"All we do know is we had a partial collapse of the roof of the shopping mall," Mayor Rick Hamilton told Reuters, adding that he had declared a state of emergency and that an urban extraction team was on its way to assess the situation.
The mayor later told the Globe and Mail that four people were hurt in the incident but their injuries were considered not life-threatening, according to the newspaper's Twitter account. The mayor's office could not be reached immediately to confirm the report.
The Elliot Lake Standard newspaper reported online that there were unconfirmed reports that two vehicles may have fallen through the roof, but the mayor said he could not confirm that.
A fire official reached by Reuters confirmed the collapse but said emergency workers were still at the scene and he could provide no further details.
Christine Ouimet, media officer with the Ontario Provincial Police, said teams were working to enter the damaged portion of the mall, and authorities would give updates after they were able to assess the situation. She could not confirm whether any cars had fallen through the roof into the retail shops below.
The newspaper reported that passers-by were later told to leave the area of the collapsed roof because of a gas leak.
(Reporting by Frank McGurty in Toronto and Cynthia Johnston; editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Todd Eastham)