At least five elderly people are dead and more than 30 unaccounted for after a fire ripped through an old people’s home in Quebec.
The fire broke out just after midnight local time (06.30 CET) at the Residence du Havre in L’Isle-Verte around 225km east of Quebec City.
Firefighters desperately battled the blaze hampered by minus 20 degrees celsius temperatures, which caused equipment and water to freeze.
Most of those who lived in the home used wheelchairs and walking frames. Many also had Alzheimer’s disease.
Emergency crews managed to rescue around 20 residents but reported seeing and hearing people trapped inside who they were unable to get to.
Investigators have begun searching the ruined building, now covered in large hanging icicles from the fire hoses, looking for the cause of the blaze.
Officials say they hope at least some of those unaccounted for had been visiting family.
Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper said there is little doubt the death toll will rise.