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Grief-stricken Quebec town mourns victims of retirement home blaze

Published on Feb 2, 2014 6:00 AM
Pictures are displayed during a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Residence du Havre fire at the Decollation-de-Saint-Jean-Baptiste church in L'Isle Verte, Quebec on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

L'ISLE-VERTE, Quebec (REUTERS) - About 900 mourners in the small grief-stricken Quebec town of L'Isle-Verte attended a public mass on Saturday for the 32 people feared dead from a fire that ripped through a wooden retirement home.

Somber-faced friends and relatives sat in the town's large 19th-century Roman Catholic church to hear prayers and tributes to victims of the January 23 blaze, one of the worst disasters to hit a Canadian residence for the elderly.

"Lord, we are all gathered in the same pain, in this deep suffering that breaks our hearts," said Pierre-Andre Fournier, archbishop of the nearby town of Rimouski.

Among those attending the nationally televised ceremony were Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. Governor-General David Johnston came as the personal representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state.

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