Quebec flooding: 2nd body found during extensive search for firefighters who were swept away

Click to play video: 'Quebec floods: Police believe recovered bodies are of missing volunteer firefighters'
Quebec floods: Police believe recovered bodies are of missing volunteer firefighters
WATCH: In Quebec, police believe two bodies recovered on Wednesday are likely of two missing volunteer firefighters. Mike Armstrong reports – May 3, 2023

Quebec provincial police say they have found a second body Wednesday afternoon in the search for two firefighters who were swept away by floodwaters.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said in a statement the two bodies were likely those of the two firefighters who went missing in the same area earlier this week but said the coroner must confirm their identities.

The discovery of the first body was made by a police helicopter around 10 a.m. in St-Urbain, Que., in the Charlevoix region. A few hours later, the second body was found about 500 metres away by search teams around 1:30 p.m., according to the SQ.

Earlier in the day, SQ spokesperson Béatrice Dorsainville told reporters that aerial and nautical teams continued to canvass the area, while police officers on foot and in vehicles searched the riverbanks.

The pair of volunteer firefighters went missing after a swollen river swept them away while they were trying to rescue two local residents on Monday.

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault chats with Baie-Saint-Paul mayor Michael Pilote as they tour the site of a major spring flood, Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Baie-Saint-Paul Que. Local MNA Kariane Bourassa, left, looks on. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Earlier in the day, Quebec Premier François Legault spoke about the two firemen, one aged 23 and the other in his 50s. He described their disappearance as the most difficult part about the spring flooding.

“It’s an immeasurable grief,” Legault said while touring the Charlevoix region to take stock of the damage and meet with local residents.

Legault also visited Baie-Saint-Paul, about 95 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. Severe flooding this week washed away roads and cut off access to homes in the area.

The premier said the government will help citizens relocate, renovate damaged homes and replace furniture.

“There are also people here who I spoke with who have lost what they built all their lives,” Legault said, adding that many have lost family homes that had been passed down through generations.

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Government officials are scheduled to meet with residents Thursday evening to explain the available government programs to help people relocate, repair damaged homes or replace property.

Bridge closed in Montreal

As spring flooding and rain continued across the province, a bridge in Montreal’s western suburbs was forced to close late Tuesday.

The City of Montreal’s civil security department shut down the Île Mercier bridge, which connects the small island to Île-Bizard, in the evening. The decision came as rising river water reached the structure.

The Île Mercier bridge is closed due to flooding on May 3, 2023. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

Montreal police and firefighters are on site to help locals navigate the area, but no vehicles can pass over the crossing linking the two islands.

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No evacuation order has been issued for residents of Île Mercier but crews will assist those who want to leave their homes.

Quebec’s Public Security Department has said a half-dozen communities across the province have declared states of emergency. Flooding hit communities in the Lanaudière and Laurentians regions, and in western Quebec.

— with files from Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press

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