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The Globe and Mail

Opposition: many unanswered questions about Elliot Lake

Police keep watch as a rescue operation continues at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on June 27, 2012.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's opposition leaders say there will be a lot of questions asked over the next few days about the partial collapse of an Elliot Lake mall that killed two people.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak say today is a day of mourning for the families who lost loved ones in the disaster.

Horwath says her thoughts are also with the community, local leaders and the rescue workers who tried desperately to make the best of a horrifying situation.

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Hudak also offered his condolences following the discovery of the first of two bodies in the rubble.

Horwath says there should be a thorough investigation into why the mall roof collapsed and whether the government responded quickly enough.

She says she was frustrated Monday to learn that the military couldn't be called unless there was a request from the premier's office.

"The question needs to be asked as to what the response time was like," she said. "Was it adequate, was it not adequate, and how do we make sure that there's not red tape when it comes to trying to save peoples' lives."

Premier Dalton McGuinty travelled to Elliot Lake on Wednesday, a day after saying his presence there wouldn't be helpful. Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur spoke to the community earlier in the day.

New Democrat MPP Mike Mantha, whose constituency office was in the Algo Centre Mall, was on the scene almost immediately after the roof collapsed, Horwath said.

Her staff were also in touch with the premier's staff when it appeared that the search would be called off, she said. She also called the prime minister's office and federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

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"I did everything I could possibly do to put pressure on to make sure things didn't slow down and that in fact the search and rescue operation was maintained," she said.

The search had been called off on Monday, only to be reinstated after community members took to the streets in protest and McGuinty intervened.

Residents decried the move, which came hours after would-be rescuers had detected signs of life amid the rubble.

Rescue crews had to abandon their original plan of entering the mall to search for victims, opting instead to partially dismantle the building and work their way in from the outside.

They pulled two bodies out of the rubble on Wednesday, but say they don't believe there are any more remains.

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