ST-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continued to search Sunday for the father of two deceased girls who were the subject of an Amber Alert earlier this week.
The bodies of Norah and Romy Carpentier, aged 11 and 6, were found in a wooded area of a Quebec City suburb on Saturday.
Police searched overnight for the girls' father, Martin Carpentier, 44, continuing into Sunday with authorities tightening the search on a wooded area in St-Apollinaire, Que.
"That's our priority now, to locate him as soon as possible," said Sgt. Ann Mathieu, a provincial police spokeswoman.
Autopsies are scheduled to determine the cause of death of the young girls and police were gathering evidence in the area the bodies were found.
They had been missing along with their father since Wednesday evening and their disappearance caught the attention of the entire province.
The Amber Alert was lifted with the grim discovery Saturday, but police say locating Martin Carpentier is the top priority and they believe he may still be in the area.
"We're still asking residents to be vigilant, but the best way to help us is to take a look at their own properties," Mathieu said.
"There is no one else better than them to notice something that is unusual on their own properties."
Police have said the girls and their father were believed to have been in a car crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire on Wednesday evening.
Investigators said the car was heading east on the highway when it skidded into the median, flipped over and landed on the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway.
But police did not find any occupants inside the car once they arrived.
An Amber Alert was issued for the girls Thursday afternoon, triggering an extensive police search began in the rural area, about 35 kilometres southeast of Quebec City.
On Sunday, provincial police asked local residents to steer clear of the search area, saying their presence in the area on Saturday evening while acting on a tip was hindering officers.
"We know their intentions are very good, but what happened yesterday just complicated the work of the police officers," Mathieu said.
The discovery of the two girls Saturday led to an outpouring of condolences online.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said that he, like all Quebecers, was "devastated" by the news.
"In particular, I'm thinking of the mother of Norah and Romy — and all their loved-ones," he wrote on Twitter Saturday.
"All of Quebec is mourning with you today."
Late Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted about the young girls, writing that all Canadians were keeping the family in their thoughts.
"I'm devastated by the news coming out of Quebec today, an incomprehensible tragedy for any parent," Trudeau wrote. "My heart breaks for the family and friends of Norah and Romy — I'm sending you my deepest condolences."
Carpentier was last seen wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans when he was last seen. He is listed as being five-foot-ten and weighing 130 pounds.
Anyone who sees Carpentier or has any information on his whereabouts to immediately contact 911.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2020.