The bodies of two of the French snowmobilers who fell Tuesday in the icy waters of a lake in Quebec were found Sunday. The police said they were determined not to let up until the last two had been located.
The identities of the two men found on the fifth day of relentless search have not been released, but the families have been informed, local officials said.
Their bodies, close to each other, floated in the waters of the Grande Décharge river about 3 km from the starting point of the research, said spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec, Hugues Beaulieu.
“This indicates that our research is working. Abandonment is not an option, ”said Hugues Beaulieu, stressing that the relatively mild temperatures helped divers.
"On behalf of the Quebec government, I want to reassure French families (and tell them) that the research will continue tomorrow too," says Québec's acting minister of public security Andree Laforest, who came on Sunday. "We will do everything to find the missing persons," she adds.
A first body, that of Gilles Claude, 58, was found Friday 2 km from the initial search area, where the submerged snowmobiles were found.
This discovery had led the police to widen the scope of their searches.
The last snowmobile located on Sunday
Police divers also located the 7th and last snowmobile for French tourists on Sunday. The craft was in the same sector as the six others spotted last week at the mouth of Lac Saint-Jean and the Grande Décharge.
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Three teams of divers conducted the research, taking turns every two hours. They were to continue their research on Monday.
Located at the mouth of a river, east of this large lake 200 km north of Quebec City, this area freezes less or not at all because of the currents.
The French group that came to Quebec for a snowmobile expedition was made up of eight men from eastern France. Three of them survived minor injuries and nervous shock. They left Quebec for France Thursday evening.
Their guide, a 42-year-old Montrealer, Benoit Lespérance, died Wednesday of the tragic accident. In addition to Gilles Claude, father of three international biathletes, the police identified the missing as Yan Thierry, 24, Jean-René Dumoulin, 24, Julien Benoît, 34, and Arnaud Antoine, 25.
Pending clarification from the police and the results of their investigation, uncertainty remained as to the causes of the accident and the reasons why the snowmobilers and their guide, although considered experienced, ventured into such an area. dangerous.
An experienced guide
A former snowmobile guide, Jean-Charles Fortin, does not believe in the hypotheses according to which the guide and his group would have taken a shortcut to arrive in time for the evening stage and he advances a possible explanation. For him, the guide had to miss a fork because of the non-existent visibility, snow and gusts of wind at 60 km / h Tuesday evening.
"I think with the reduced visibility they missed the turn (which turns) 90 degrees," he said. I think they just missed the fork, they continued and ended up in the water, "he adds, saying that Benoit Lespèrance was" one of the best guides he has met "and" not one cowboy guide or irresponsible ”.
Minister Laforest also took advantage of her visit to the research site to reiterate the importance of caution and safety in engaging in this sport, which is very popular in Quebec and which attracts many tourists.
This region "is snow paradise", but there is an essential message to remember "Always take safe trails. If we take the safe trails, the marked trails, normally it should be fine, "she said.