ELLIOT LAKE, Ontario (AP) — Officials said late Monday they are resuming rescue efforts at a partly collapsed mall after Ontario's premier urged them to continue and residents protested that no one in the debris should be abandoned.
Rescue workers detected breathing inside the rubble early Monday, but authorities later called off the work over fears of another collapse. One death has been confirmed after part of the mall's roof collapsed Saturday afternoon, and another person is known to be still inside.
Just hours after search efforts were called off, the local member of the provincial legislature said Premier Dalton McGuinty wanted to explore the slim odds of a rescue.
"There's still a 5 percent chance, even a 1 percent chance. That is a chance that the premier wants to explore," Michael Mantha said as a crowd of residents cheered.
In a statement, the premier asked that other options be considered, including using heavy equipment to dismantle the building from the outside. "I believe we owe it to the families waiting for word of their loved ones to leave no stone unturned."
Dozens of residents of the former mining hub had protested in front of city hall after the decision to halt rescue efforts, saying abandoning trapped comrades would be unthinkable in miners' culture. Rescue missions never end, save our families, save our friends," they chanted, and some suggested that volunteer mine workers should take up the rescue effort themselves.
Rhonda Bear, the mall's manager, had said the mall's owners were pleading with officials to continue the search and had lawyers who would try for a court injunction against the decision to stop the rescue.
Bill Needles, a spokesman from the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team, earlier Monday confirmed one person had died and said crews had used a remote device called the life detector to determine a person was breathing as of 4 a.m. Monday. He said the dead person is the same one whose hand and foot were visible in images captured by a remote camera on Sunday.
"Our team is certainly not happy. I'm not happy, nobody's happy that we have to stop work, but that's unfortunately the way that we've had to end this situation," Needles had said.
At least 22 people suffered minor injuries in the collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake when a portion of the roof that serves as a parking area crumbled into an area near the mall's food court.
Ontario Provincial Police Insp. Percy Jollymore said officers are still trying to determine how many others are missing. A list of names submitted by citizens has been fluctuating dramatically since the accident, he said, but two names have remained constant.
"We do have two names of people who are known to be in the mall," Jollymore said. "Their names have never disappeared on the list."
Two kiosks selling lottery tickets, cigarettes and magazines were located in the area where the roof caved in and were open before the roof collapse, eyewitnesses said.
The collapse left behind a gaping hole which was 12 meters (39 feet) by 24 meters (79 feet).
Needles had said local officials would resume control of the site, which is under investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labor. Ministry officials had been expected to issue an order for at least part of the mall to be demolished.
Some residents said the building was much in need of repairs, and officials from the Ontario Ministry of Labour had previously visited the mall because of complaints of water leaks. Mayor Rick Hamilton declined comment on the leaks.
"The mall's always had leaks (and) roof damage," said Jean-Marc Hayward, who was in the mall at the time of the collapse.
The ceiling of the mall always dripped when it rained, he said.
Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
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