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Second body recovered from Old Montreal building destroyed by fire

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Montreal police confirmed Tuesday evening that a second body has been recovered from the building in Old Montreal that was destroyed by a fire last week.

The fire department's technical rescue unit found the victim while searching the building using a crane.

The body has been taken to a forensic lab to be identified.

More details are expected Wednesday at 8 a.m. when fire and police officials hold a news conference.

Five people are still missing.

A woman's body was extracted on Sunday. She has yet to be identified.

"It will be a long process and we will not be able to give names very fast, but we cannot make a mistake," said Montreal police (SPVM) inspector David Shane. 

Victims will need to be identified through at least one scientific method, such as dental records or DNA.

Speaking at a press briefing early Tuesday, Shane said the building is still too dangerous for rescuers to enter on foot. 

Technicians used cameras Monday to analyze the structure's interior and determine the safest way forward, as well as search for potential victims.  

"The work allowed us to confirm the instability of the building as well as the work plan we will we implement today," said fire operations chief Martin Guilbault.

Officials said rescuers will enter the building on Tuesday via crane to search the premises further.

"No one's going to march or go inside the building," Guilbault explained. "Failure is not an option. So we have to take our time to make sure we do the right thing." 

Rescuers use cranes on March 21, 2023 to search for bodies in the wreckage of a fire in Old Montreal last week that left one dead and six missing. (CTV Montreal/Matt Gilmour)

The recovery efforts are agonizing for friends and family desperate for answers, who also say there’s a critical lack of communication.

"They ask me lots of things, but once I try to ask them anything about what's happening, like for example why they are so sure only six people are missing, the only answer I get is, 'Oh, it’s under investigation,'" said Yuken Zeng, a friend of one of the missing people, An Wu. Zeng flew to Montreal on Monday looking for answers about his friend.

Police now have access to the building's floor plan and are searching the areas they believe are most likely where the remaining victims may be.
Shane said several floors of the building collapsed on each other, leaving a scene of "complete devastation."

"They're all piled up so then you've got to remove all the rubble and then extract. So this is a glimpse of what our firemen and police are facing," he said.

Police say this a broad investigation and they aren't ruling anything out.

So far, no charges have been laid. Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire and whether negligence played a role.

Géhane Kamel, the coroner in charge of the investigation, was also on site to address the press.

"The main objective of my role is to provide answers to families and possibly issue recommendations," she said.

Once potential victims are found and extracted, pathologists will confirm their identities using DNA samples.

The people missing are from Quebec, Ontario and the U.S. 

With files form CTV News Montreal's Joe Lofaro and The Canadian Press

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