Quebec house falls into sinkhole; 4 missing

Associated Press / May 12, 2010

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SAINT-JUDE, Quebec — Four people, including two children, are missing after the land beneath their home gave way and swallowed their house near Montreal, officials said yesterday.

Rescue authorities said the house partially collapsed Monday night in Saint-Jude, a town of 1,000 near the Yamaska River, when a sinkhole formed.

“It’s a pretty gigantic crater,’’ said François Gregoire, a Quebec Fire Department spokesman. “It’s hard imagining something like this. It’s pretty impressive.’’

Gregoire said the house was quite far from the river before the land gave way but part of it ended up in the water.

He said three cars in front of the house were swept away, as was part of a nearby road.

Sinkholes can occur when water undermines an area of land or when rock below the land surface shifts.

Gregoire said rescuers were able to get to the collapsed house, but could not locate the resident couple in their 40s, or their children, ages about 9 and 11.

Quebec provincial police spokesman Ronald McInnis said firefighters got into the house but had to retreat when it started moving again.