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Mass held near site of Quebec propane explosion as three remain missing

A solidarity mass is underway in a town north of Montreal where three people remain missing following a fire and explosion at a propane distribution company.

Several hundred people were in the pews of the local church as the ceremony began just after 10:30 in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., about 50 kilometres north of Montreal.

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People embrace during a mass in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., Sunday, January 15, 2023, in memory of the victims of a propane explosion just outside the town on Thursday.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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People attend a mass in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., Sunday, January 15, 2023, in memory of the victims of a propane explosion just outside the town on Thursday.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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People attend a mass in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., Sunday, January 15, 2023, in memory of the victims of a propane explosion just outside the town on Thursday.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The local fire department received calls Thursday morning about an explosion and fire at Propane Lafortune, but the risk of further explosions forced firefighters to retreat and they were only able to bring the blaze under control in the evening.

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Firefighters work the scene after an explosion at a propane company, Thursday, January 12, 2023 in Saint-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Que. Three employees of a propane distribution business remain unaccounted for one day after an explosion and fire north of Montreal.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

READ MORE: Three employees remain missing after explosion at Quebec propane business

Police have said they do not believe the explosion was a criminal act but have not established what caused it, adding winter weather and the state of the site has complicated the search for victims.

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Claude Ritchie, the parish priest involved in today’s mass, said ahead of the service that the town is close-knit and many people know each other.

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Firefighters work the scene after an explosion at a propane company, Thursday, January 12, 2023 in Saint-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Que.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

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Firefighter Francois Thiverge and Mayor Sebastien Marcil, left, leave the secure zone after an explosion at a propane company Thursday, January 12, 2023 in Saint-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Que.


Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

In the wake of a tragedy, “You cannot do many things, but this thing we can do: to be there and tell people they are not alone,” he said.

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“That we consider their pain, their sorrow, their sadness. We share all this together.”

–with files from Alessia Simona Maratta, Global News

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