Two workers who became trapped under a tangle of debris inside a Quebec paper mill when a scaffold collapsed this week were being mourned Thursday after the recovery of their bodies during the night.
Family, union colleagues, company officials and the municipality expressed sadness over the deaths of Yan Baillargeon, 39, and Hugo Paré, 22, at the Domtar paper mill in Windsor, Que.
The town of 5,300 people in Quebec’s Eastern Townships issued a statement extending its condolences to the families of the victims and to those who were injured.
“The Domtar factory has been a part of who we are for a long time, and the people who work there, whether employees or contractors who visit periodically, are important to all of us,” Mayor Sylvie Bureau wrote.
Baillargeon and Paré, who were both from towns south of Quebec City, were employed by a contracting firm that was doing major work at the Windsor mill.
Sherbrooke fire Chief Stephane Simoneau said Wednesday that the workers became trapped inside a silo about 60 metres high when scaffolding installed in the silo collapsed at around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
He said the rescue operation was slowed by fears that removing the rubble too quickly could lead to another collapse, further injuring the two men if they were still alive and placing rescuers at risk.
In a statement Thursday, Domtar also extended its sympathies to the families and colleagues of the two men. “This tragedy affects and saddens us all,” the statement said. “We are focusing our efforts on supporting our colleagues and their families.”
Domtar said it is co-operating with the ongoing investigations by Quebec provincial police and the province’s workers’ health and safety board to determine the cause of the collapse.
The Confederation of National Trade Unions also mourned the deaths in a statement issued Wednesday night.
“One death at work is always one death too many. All our sympathies to the families and relatives of the two victims,” the union federation said.
In a post on Facebook, Yan Baillargeon’s sister paid tribute to her brother. “After 40 hours of rescue, they finally found my brother, but he had already left for a better world, in heaven with our father,” Kim Baillargeon wrote. “See you on the other side, big brother. I love you to infinity.”