Quebec provincial police have confirmed the deaths of two missing young girls and a manhunt is underway for their father near the province’s capital on Saturday evening.
The Sûreté du Québec said the bodies found in a wooded area in Saint-Apollinaire earlier in the day are those of Romy Carpentier, 6, and Norah Carpentier, 11.
Police could not provide more details about their deaths, which has brought the days-long search to an end. The Amber Alert, which was issued on Thursday, has since been lifted.
“The father, Martin Carpentier, is still missing,” said SQ agent Sgt. Ann Mathieu.
Police are warning residents of Saint-Apollinaire and Saint-Agapit to be vigilant as a manhunt is underway.
Yves Martineau, a local resident, posted a video of police officers running around near lac Sacré-Cœur in what appears to be part of the search for Carpentier, who is still missing as of Saturday evening.
Investigators are asking the public not to approach Carpentier if they see him and to call 911.
Quebec Premier François Legault gave his condolences to the girls’ mother and their loved ones on social media on Saturday, calling it a “national tragedy.”
“Like all Quebecers, I am overwhelmed, without words. Losing two children, dearest things we have in life, is incomprehensible,” Legault wrote on Twitter.
Pina Arcamone, director general of the Missing Children’s Network, said she was hopeful that the two sisters would have been found alive and that her thoughts are with their mother.
“I cannot imagine the depth of her sorrow — and for all the immediate family — that this has been one of the worse nightmares for this mom, ” she said.
Items found in forest, large search
Quebec provincial police resumed searching for the trio on Saturday morning after an Amber Alert was triggered on Thursday afternoon.
The father and two girls had not been seen since late Wednesday night after police believe they were involved in a car accident on Highway 20 in eastern Quebec and left the scene on foot.
While canvassing the area on Saturday, the SQ located miscellaneous items in a forested area in Quebec that could potentially be linked to the two young girls and their father.
According to Mathieu, there is still no confirmation the items belong to the young girls. The objects were found around the area of the Rang du Bois-Joly and Rang du Bois de l’Ail.
The Canadian military was also brought in for reinforcement, according to Mathieu.
“A helicopter from the Canadian military came to support the aerial search (on Friday),” she said.
The search had been centred on a rural area of Saint-Apollinaire, and ATVs, police dogs and a helicopter have been used. Police say they searched over 150 kilometres of wooded areas and roads on Friday.
Father’s girlfriend issued plea
On Friday, Martin Carpentier’s girlfriend made a public plea on social media to her boyfriend asking him to give his family a sign of life.
In a video released by the Quebec provincial police, Cathy Gingras says in tears, “Martin, we’re worried. We haven’t heard from you since the accident. We’re wondering if you’re okay, the girls, Romy, Norah.”
“Give us some news, give us a sign, call your parents, anything,” she said. “What’s important is that you’re OK, we don’t care about anything else. We just want to know you’re OK.”
— With files from The Canadian Press, Global’s Alessia Simona Maratta, Kwabena Oduro and Felicia Parrillo