Partial roof collapse at Canada mall, evacuation

Associated Press
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A woman checks out the damage after a roof collapsed at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The partial collapse prompted a local state of emergency and a search for anyone who might have been injured in the cave-in. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Cora Richer)

ELLIOT LAKE, Ontario (AP) — A number of people are missing and 22 people suffered minor injuries after a roof partially collapsed at a busy shopping mall in Canada, police said Sunday.

A portion of the roof that serves as a parking area crumbled down onto the food court on Saturday afternoon, exposing metal and concrete supports at Algo Centre Mall in the northern Ontario city of Elliott Lake. The collapsed prompted an evacuation of the mall.

Ontario Provincial Police said Sunday no one suffered serious injuries, but a number of people remain unaccounted for. Police said the names of those missing continue to be crossed off the list as members of the community account for their loved ones.

A Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team from Toronto has been sent to Elliot Lake to help. The unit confirmed that at least one person was trapped in the collapse.

Emergency officials quickly cleared out the mall and closed surrounding roads after the collapse triggered a gas leak.

Mayor Rick Hamilton declared a state of emergency soon after the collapse.

Joe Drazil, a Zellers store employee, said several cars appeared to have fallen through the gaping hole near some escalators.

"You can see the roof with the cars hanging inside," he said. "Everybody was cleared from the whole mall. After that, there was numerous police and emergency vehicles coming from all over."

The two-level mall in this northern Ontario community is approximately 200,000 square feet (18,580 sq. meters). It houses a grocery store, restaurants, a number of retail outlets, a hotel, and the constituency office for a member of the provincial parliament.

Calls to the management office at the mall were not immediately returned. Calls to the Algo Inn hotel attached to the mall were not answered.


Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha contributed from Toronto.