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Canada Elliot Lake residents keep watch as rescue effort continues

Crowds gather at a at a vigil set up outside the Algo Centre in Elliott Lake on June 25, 2012.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

About 250 Elliot Lake residents held an impromptu vigil outside the collapsed Algo Centre mall on Monday evening.

A representative for the Ontario Provincial Police confirmed that engineers are working on a new rescue plan which, following approval, would be put into action.

Residents shouted from the crowd: "Tomorrow is too late."

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Some among the men, women and children on scene were prepared to take matters into their own hands.

Lifelong Elliot Lake resident Dan Lozier, 26, who has spent time working in mines, said he and other men had the training and the equipment necessary to enter the wrecked building in search of survivors.

"I absolutely would go in," said Mr. Lozier. "I know what it's like to be in that situation."

Mr. Lozier said his car was loaded with respirators, masks, and hard hats.

One volunteer held a hand-written list of people who had offered to go inside the mall if necessary. Volunteers assured reporters that anyone who entered the building would have to prove that they were at least 18 years of age.

So far, there is no indication that volunteers would be permitted to enter the wrecked structure.

The crowd gathered at the corner of Saskatchewan Drive and Ontario Avenue, a corner on a retail strip illuminated in television lights. A garbage can near the scene was overflowing with Tim Hortons coffee cups.

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Candles and hand-written notes have been placed on the scene.

One note, on a heart-shaped piece of paper, read "Stay Strong. We have not forgotten about you!!!"

Rumours spread quickly through the densely-packed crowd. Around 11:30 p.m., a group of about two dozen, mostly men, heard that rescue gear was being removed from the site. They walked along Ontario to block the exit, but police officers assured them nothing was being removed.

Residents continue to confirm that the local mall was in a state of persistent disrepair prior to the collapse.

Asked about the building's condition, Elliot Lake residents George Reid and Robert Lewis answered in unison: "Terrible."

"The first time I walked in [to the mall], I thought, 'My God,'" said Mr. Lewis.

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A Toronto Police coach bus was spotted in a nearby parking lot.

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