Using steam to melt the ice, investigators searched the frozen-over ruins of a retirement home Friday for victims of a fire that left at least eight people dead and about 30 missing.
The tragedy cast such a pall over the village of 1,500 that psychologists were sent door to door.
“It’s absolute desolation,” Mayor Ursule Theriault said.
The cause of the blaze that swept through the three-story building early Thursday was under investigation, and police asked the public for any videos or photos that might yield clues.
Witnesses told horrific tales of people trapped and killed by the flames. Many of the 50 or so residents were over 85 and used wheelchairs or walkers. Some had Alzheimer’s. The spray from firefighters’ hoses left the senior citizens home resembling a macabre snow palace, the ruins encased in thick white ice dripping with icicles.
Search teams of police, firefighters and coroners slowly and methodically picked their way through, working in shifts in the extreme cold about 140 miles northeast of Quebec City.
The confirmed number of dead climbed to eight with the discovery of three more bodies. Quebec Provincial Police Lt. Guy Lapointe said investigators would suspend the search overnight and resume this morning.