The human remains of four people have been located at the site of a devastating explosion in Ottawa, officials say.
The explosion occurred on Thursday at Eastway Tank on Merivale Road.
One of three men who had been taken to hospital had died of injuries sustained during the blast, police said.
Five people remain unaccounted for — four men and one woman — believed to have been in the building when the explosion took place.
Their identities have not yet been released.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Ottawa Police Insp. Frank D’Aoust said teams are still working to recover those who are still missing.
In a press release issued Sunday, officials confirmed the “human remains of four persons have been located at the scene.”
“However, no one has been recovered at this point,” the release reads.
Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, the regional supervising coroner for Eastern Ontario told reporters it has “been dangerous to access” the remains.
“So, we’ve had to wait until there’s safe access,” she said.
According to McNaughton-Filion, once the remains are recovered, forensic specialists will analyze them to determine if DNA testing is required.
But any damage efrom fires or explosion “makes it difficult for identification.”
“We have many different forensic methods to determine identification, and we will not release to the family all the identities until they are all found,” she said.
D’Aoust said the building is “very unstable,” adding that crews have not been able to get very far inside.
The structure is being dismantled and “searched methodically,” a process that could take several days or more.
According to D’Aoust, there are “several layers of debris.”
“And we have to be careful,” he told reporters.
Ontario’s Deputy Fire Marshall Tim Beckett told reporters a large team has been deployed to the scene and work is ongoing.
He said they are examining aerial images, interviewing witnesses and using heavy machinery to remove debris and collect evidence.
His team has been making progress, but there is still work to be done.
According to Beckett, in the coming days, investigators will take the evidence they have collected and continue to conduct analysis to determine the cause of the event.
However, he said it is “much too early,” to say what caused the explosion.
Beckett said the conditions of the site, the cold weather and the magnitude of the blast have all created challenges for investigators.
According to the release, investigators are also concerned about the risk of periodic flare-ups, the presence of asbestos, chemicals and of potential structural collapse.
“These are slowing recovery efforts,” the release said. “It is anticipated that work at the scene will continue into next week and maybe longer.”
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