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Search for bodies continues after fire

Investigators will continue sifting through icy rubble today to try to identify more victims of a fire that destroyed a seniors' residence in Quebec.

Freezing temperatures will probably hamper the efforts in the eastern Quebec town of L'Isle-Verte.

Five people are confirmed dead, while another 30 are reported missing.

The cause of Thursday morning's blaze is unclear.

Most of the residents probably never had a chance — many of them were over 85, had little or no mobility and were confined to wheelchairs or walkers.

A common theme in conversations in the town of 1,500 was the parallel between the fire and the train derailment which devastated Lac-Megantic last summer.

Both tragedies occurred shortly after midnight and left the two communities reeling.

Witnesses told horrific tales on Thursday of seeing people die in the blaze.

Pascal Fillion said he saw an attempt to use a ladder to rescue a man cornered on his third-floor balcony.

The man was screaming and crying out for help before he fell to the ground engulfed by the fire.

A Quebec Health Department document indicates the residence, which has operated since 1997, had only a partial sprinkler system.

The facility expanded around 2002 and the sprinklers in the new part of the building triggered the alarm.

Fire chief Yvan Charron said his colleagues were able to get to the third of the building that remained standing, while the rest was inaccessible.

The Canadian Press

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