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April 20, 2014

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Confirmed death toll climbs to 16 in Quebec fire

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 | 11:24 a.m.

L'ISLE-VERTE, Quebec (AP) — Authorities say 16 people are now confirmed dead and 16 remain missing after the fire that ripped through a seniors' residence in Quebec last week.

Emergency workers continued to comb through the ice-covered rubble on the sixth day of the excruciating recovery effort.

Officials have used special machines that pump out hot air to melt thick ice coating the ruins. The work has been slow and painstaking, with workers being given periodic breaks as they brave bitterly cold temperatures and strong winds in L'Isle-Verte, a town 140 miles (225 kilometers) northeast of Quebec City.

Quebec provincial police spokeswoman Ann Mathieu said Tuesday about 50 people are combing the rubble of the building in teams.

Only three people have been formally identified by the coroner's office thus far.