Bodies of 2 missing Quebec firefighters swept away in flooding found in Charlevoix
The bodies of two Quebec firefighters who were swept away Monday during flooding have now been found.
A Quebec provincial police helicopter located the body of a first man shortly before 10 a.m. in the Rivière du Gouffre, in Charlevoix, near Baie-Saint-Paul.
Recovery efforts took several hours. At about 2 p.m., a helicopter airlifted the man's body from where it had become entangled in some brush on the banks of the fast-moving river. The victim's family has been notified.
The body of the second man was spotted at 1:30 p.m., about 500 metres away from the location of the first body, along Rang St-Laurent, between Route 138 and Rang Ste-Croix, said Sûreté du Québec (SQ) spokesperson Béatrice Dorsainville at an afternoon press conference.
Both bodies are being sent to the coroner for formal identification.
The two missing volunteer firefighters are Christopher Lavoie, 23, and Régis Lavoie, who is in his 50s.
The two firefighters were both assisting people whose homes were being evacuated when they were swept away by floodwaters in Saint-Urbain, Que. Several homes were evacuated after local roads were washed out.
The search for the two firefighters had been ongoing since Monday.
Baie-Saint-Paul Mayor Michaël Pilote said the Red Cross is on the ground assisting people whose homes were evacuated and in the meantime, psychological help is being offered from the regional health board.
During the press conference, he urged residents to wait for authorization before returning to their homes.
He also pleaded for people who don't live in the area to stop coming to the ravaged city to take photos of the catastrophe.
Prior to the second body being found by police, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies with the family of the first volunteer firefighter who was found Wednesday.
In a tweet, Trudeau said, "My thoughts are also with the loved ones of the missing firefighter."
An investigation to determine the causes and circumstances surrounding the event is underway, said the SQ, which said it is working closely with various partners including the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).
Quebec Premier Francois Legault, in Charlevoix Wednesday to speak with residents, urged Quebecers to avoid passing judgment on what might have happened on Monday that led to the two volunteer firefighters' disappearance.
"It must have happened quickly," he said. "It's a situation that evolved very quickly, so yes, we must ask ourselves questions and we will do the necessary analysis."
Legault called the situation "infinitely sad."
- With files from The Canadian Press