Fire destroys seniors' residence in Canada; 3 dead, 30 missing

Reuters , Thursday 23 Jan 2014

At least three people died and 30 were missing after a fire ripped through a seniors' residence in the Canadian province of Quebec overnight, police said on Thursday.

Fanned by high winds, the fire engulfed the three-story Residence du Havre in the small community of L'Isle-Verte, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River some 230 km (140 miles) northeast of Quebec City in eastern Canada.

"Right now 30 people are missing. Three are confirmed dead," Quebec police spokeswoman Ann Mathieu told a televised briefing.

"That does not necessarily mean 30 people have lost their lives. It's possible that some were relocated with other people. Some might be away with their families," she said.

Police said earlier that nine people had been taken to hospital. Public broadcaster RDI said a further 16 had been transported to other locations.

RDI showed photos of the residence enveloped in flames. The temperature in the area early on Thursday morning was minus 22 Celsius (minus 7.6 Fahrenheit).

Eyewitness Pascal Fillion told RDI that at 1 am eastern (0600 GMT) a large part of the building was already on fire, thanks in part to the high winds.

Mathieu said the residence contained 52 units but said she did not know how many people had been living there.

Last July, 47 people died when a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the middle of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic. 

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