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Police identify last two victims of Old Montreal fire, both 18 years old

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Montreal police say they have identified two more bodies found in the rubble of a fire in Old Montreal 12 days ago.

 

Charlie Lacroix and Walid Belkahla, both 18, are the sixth and seventh victims of the fire.

 

Both were extracted from the rubble on Monday and taken to a pathologist for identification.

 

Five victims had already been identified.

 

They are 31-year-old neuroscientist An Wu, childhood friends Dania Zafar and Saniya Khan, both 31 years old, 35-year-old Nathan Sears, who had a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto and Camille Maheux, 76, a renowned Montreal photographer.

 

"Out of respect for the families and loved ones. We will not provide further details on the origins of the victims and the circumstances surrounding their deaths," said Insp. David Shane on Tuesday during what he said would be the last news conference related to the fire at Place D'Youville.

 

Police say the search for victims is now over.

 

With the help of search dogs, fire department chief Martin Guilbault says they have concluded there are no more bodies in the rubble.

 

Guilbault says 22 people were inside the building when the fire broke out. Six people escaped unharmed, nine were injured, and seven died.

 

"During the fire, the SIM [Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal] rescued four people by portable ladder and two people by aerial ladder. One person also managed to escape from jumping from a window," said Guilbault.

 

The focus now shifts to determining the cause of the fire, which officials have yet to speculate publicly on.

 

Montreal police, firefighters and the coroner in charge of the investigation will work closely together to find answers, said Insp. Shane.

 

"If there is any wrongdoing in this case, there will be consequences," he said. "We will be here for as long as is needed to not leave any stone unturned."

 

Those killed in the fire included a long-term resident of the heritage building as well as people who had booked accommodation on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb, which are illegal in Old Montreal.

 

The tragedy prompted the short-term rental platform to announce last week that it would pull listings in Quebec that don't have a permit from the provincial government.

 

Lacroix, who was visiting the city from the suburb of Terrebonne, Que., was one of those who had rented accommodation in the building on a short-term rental site.

 

Her father has said she was in an apartment with a friend and called 911 twice as the fire spread through the building, unable to escape because the unit had no window.

 

A report by a Montreal tenants' rights association says 79 per cent of the roughly 30,000 units in Quebec that were available for rent in February on Airbnb were not certified by the province.

 

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV's Joe Lofaro

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