|Premier Dalton McGuinty and PC Leader Tim Hudak. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/QMI Agency)
TORONTO — In a country renowned for its search and rescue abilities, Elliot Lake should not have to wait for any assistance it needs to rescue people trapped in the collapsed mall, NDP MPP Michael Mantha says.
"(Tuesday) morning, I don't want to wake up and say, 'what if?'" Mantha said Tuesday.
The collapse of the Elliot Lake mall occurred on the very doorstep of the Algoma-Manitoulin's constituency office.
PC Leader Tim Hudak said the first priority must be to rescue the people caught in the rubble, not second guess the official response to the disaster.
"I think there are legitimate questions to ask but we do have people who may be buried under the ground -- let's get about saving them and then we'll pursue these questions later on," Hudak said Tuesday.
Asked if the province should have reacted sooner to the crisis, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday that he had been in touch with the mayor of Elliot Lake Sunday to offer help if needed.
McGuinty said it was not appropriate at this moment to play the "blame game."
The premier said he learned Monday of the decision made on the ground by the emergency team to end the rescue efforts.
"They made it perfectly clear to me that it would be to place rescuers at grave risk of injury and possibly worse to have them go into the building again in order to make efforts to rescue people who are trapped inside," McGuinty said. "There is another option and that option involves beginning to dismantle the building from the outside."
McGuinty said there is risk associated with this procedure as well, but he believes it's important to explore every possible means of freeing people.
"It is not unlike a house of cards, and it might be that if you pull away at this wall in an effort to get access to somebody who's trapped in there, it may cause other things to move and other things to tumble and crumble," McGuinty said.