Rescue workers stand in attention as a second body is being recovered at the scene of the Algo Mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ontario, June 27, 2012.
Credits: Kenneth Armstrong/REUTERS
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - A second body has been pulled from the rubble of the caved-in mall in this northern Ontario city, officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Bill Neadles, of Toronto-based Heavy Urban Search and Rescue, told a press conference that he's 99% sure no others remain in the Algo Centre Mall.
Officials have not released the identities of the deceased.
Neadles said it was a "very big miracle" that more people weren't killed in Saturday's mall collapse.
Meanwhile, as the search through the rubble winds down, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is en route to Elliot Lake, his office confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
McGuinty will meet with the mayor, residents and the emergency crews who helped recover the bodies.
The second body was removed by firefighters just before 1 p.m., on a covered stretcher, about four hours after the first body was pulled out.
Crews removed their hard hats as the stretchers passed by.
The bodies were found 10 to 15 feet apart near the mall's escalator when a specialized crane shifted a slab of concrete.
Technicians had to carefully demolish this area using three cranes - including a $2-million mechanical arm brought in from Toronto.
The Ministry of Labour's structural engineer then inspected the scene and allowed the canine unit to go in. The victims were found soon after.
Twelve people are unaccounted for after the mall's roof collapsed through two floors. The focus of a rescue and recovery mission has been focused on two people - one who was confirmed dead on Monday and the other who was heard tapping from below the same day.
The two missing people who've remained on the fluctuating list of the missing is Lucie Aylwin, who was working at the lottery kiosk, and a senior who was buying a lottery ticket when the roof collapsed.
Emotions have run high in the small community since officials announced they were suspending the search Monday, only to resume at the request of McGuinty the following day.
"It's devastating to us," Neadles said, "That you think we would go home. We came here. We'd stay another four or five weeks if we had to."
After applause from the community, and then a standing ovation at the conference, Neadles pressed on.
"We haven't shaved or showered for a couple of days. And that's OK. (Rescue crews) are here because they volunteer to do this," he said. "It's been a rollercoaster ride."
In a release, McGuinty offered his condolences to all involved in the tragedy.
"This news comes as a terrible blow to the people of that community. We will continue to stand with them in their sorrow," he said.
-- With files from Rita Poliakov, Chris Doucette and Antonella Artuso