The colleagues of An Wu, an American academic who came to attend a conference in Montreal, find it hard to believe that the “brilliant and dynamic” thirty-something lost her life in the fatal fire that occurred last Thursday in the Old Port. The victim’s family is wondering about the causes of this tragedy, says a close friend.

Ms. Wu’s friends had not heard from them since Thursday, reports Enida Gjoni, a colleague of the victim at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The two postdocs had been working together on a daily basis since 2016. An Wu will leave a huge void, she says about the 31-year-old researcher, who immigrated from China to the United States to continue her studies. “She was a brilliant, intelligent woman. But she was also dynamic and human. »

The two friends traveled from San Diego to COSYNE, a popular neuroscience conference held in Montreal and Mont-Tremblant from March 9-14.

The workshops organized in the metropolis took place at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel and ended on Wednesday. Ms. Gjoni left Quebec the same day. An Wu’s return flight was scheduled for Thursday. She therefore rented accommodation for one night via the Airbnb platform, relates her colleague.

Friends of the victim remained without news last weekend. His family, consumed by worry, contacted the local police. They thought she was kidnapped, or worse, Ms. Gjoni said. “She responds to her texts in two seconds. It was unusual. »

Since the victim’s entire family is in China, the victim’s entourage in San Diego went looking for him. They find his apartment empty. They notify the border authorities of his disappearance. They are informed that she never crossed the border. “We didn’t know what was going on. We were in nothingness, ”continues the student.

The owner of the accommodations provided authorities with a list of the occupants of the building on the evening of the tragedy, she said. “They then contacted relatives. That’s how we found out. »

The last messages sent by An Wu to his relatives date from Thursday evening around 2 a.m. She didn’t come out, Ms. Gjoni recalls. “She liked the apartment, she told us she was going to spend the evening alone watching Netflix”

The parents of the young woman deserve to know what happened to their daughter, believes her colleague, in contact with the family of the victim in China. They cannot travel to Canada since they do not have a visa. “Nothing is going to bring An back to them. But we are hoping for answers from the police, the government and the owner. »