ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. — There are calls for a public inquiry after a four-day effort to find survivors in the wreckage of a partially collapsed shopping mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., ended with the removal of two bodies.
Ontario New Democrat Mike Mantha, who represents the riding, says an inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of what happened at the Algo Shopping Centre.
Premier Dalton McGuinty says the coroner’s office is conducting an investigation of the two deaths with the assistance of provincial police.
The Ministry of Labour, which visited the mall six times in the last three years, will also be conducting its own probe.
McGuinty says the history of the mall will be under “intense review” and the results of that will be made public.
He says the public needs to know whether everything possible was done to save lives or if there was more that could have been done.
Residents say they want accountability after efforts to find survivors in the wreckage ended with the removal of two bodies yesterday.
McGuinty is also offering financial help to the devastated community to help relocate businesses and social services and offer support to those who’ve lost their jobs.
He’s also said the collapse and its aftermath highlighted the need to review emergency procedures in the province, but declined to expand on what that might entail.
The search had been called off on Monday, only to be reinstated after community members took to the streets in protest and McGuinty intervened directly.
Residents decried the move, which came hours after would-be rescuers had detected signs of life amid the rubble.
Officials said the suspension was never meant to be permanent, adding dangerous conditions within the building would have endangered the 37 crew members tasked with saving any survivors.
Rescuers spent two days sifting through the debris and using sophisticated equipment to try to clear a path to anyone who may have survived when a roof came crashing down through the two-storey building.
In the end, however, the rescue mission that began after disaster struck on Saturday became a recovery operation.