The devastation at Algo Centre Mall in the northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake looked like a scene from a war film on Sunday morning. A day earlier, metal and concrete crashed through two floors of the shopping centre, injuring 22 and leaving several missing.
The list of people currently unaccounted for is two-page long, Ontario Provincial Police say. Luckily, no one was found seriously injured or killed in the collapse. But the city of about 11,000 is in shock.
The collapsed section of the mall used to be a part of the parking area. The building, which is almost 30 years old, was undergoing repairs, but none of these were major structural fixes, Rhonda Bear, the mall's manager, told CBC News.
Amateur videos showing the post-collapse mall started circulating online after the city located 160 kilometres away from Sudbury, Ont., became an overnight sensation.
"It happened so fast and my first thought was, I have to turn my gas off, I have a restaurant," Elaine Quinte, who owns Hungry Jack's at the mall, told CBC.
"All of a sudden I started getting hit by some of the rubble. I turned around. I saw other people in the food court running out of the doors. I remember seeing the concrete. There was instantly so much dust, first you saw [the food court], and then you didn't."
Questions about the building's stability aren't new for Algo Centre Mall, the Globe and Mail reports. The Standard, a local newspaper, once wrote that leaks and deficiencies were a cause for concern at the mall. The owner reportedly spent $1.1-million to stop roof leaks about four years ago.
More recently, in March, the mall management pleaded guilty to violating the fire code safety regulations, CBC reports.
The owner of the mall had little to say about the incident this morning.
"I'd rather not [comment], because we have talked to our lawyers and we going to be in the city hall to represent ourselves," he told the Globe and Mail.
"But nevertheless, we are very much concerned [about] this accident."
This isn't the first structural collapse shocking Ontario this June. Just a week ago, on June 16, a Toronto stage collapsed killing one ahead of an outdoor Radiohead concert.
An Elliot Lake collapse information line for members of the public has been set up at 1-888-310-1122.
With files from CBC