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6 Killed in Quebec Avalanche

January 1, 1999

MONTREAL (AP) _ At least six people were killed and 25 injured in northern Quebec today when an avalanche swept down on an Inuit village’s New Year celebration, police said. Several people were missing.

The avalanche crashed into a gym in Kangiqsualujjuaq, a coastal village 950 miles north of Montreal on Ungava Bay, off the Labrador Sea. It knocked down one of the gym’s walls, leaving between three to nine feet of snow inside the building, said Ronald McInnis, a Quebec police officer.

``It was a little after midnight, when 400 to 500 people were in the village gymnasium, when the avalanche struck,″ provincial police spokesman Constable Francois Dore said from Montreal. ``Some people had the time to get out, but some are still missing.″

Dore, who gave the death toll, said 12 of the injured were reported in serious condition.

Villagers dug frantically through the tons of snow that slid from the 250-foot hill, trying to reach the missing, he added.

Dore said four people were missing but Brian Jones, deputy police chief of the Kativik Regional police force, said only three people were not accounted for.

Dore said the remote community had only one doctor and rescue efforts were being hampered by bad weather.

A plane with 15 emergency workers finally flew in late this morning from Kuujjuaq, formerly known as Fort Chimo, 190 miles to the west. It aimed to airlift the most seriously injured Inuits, also known as Eskimos, to a hospital in Kuujjuaq.

Two other planes carrying more police officers and search dogs were also en route.

The village, at the mouth of the George River, was established in 1838 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.

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