May 11th, 2010
11:07 AM ET

Report: At least 2 in family die after sinkhole swallows home

[Update 9:59 p.m. ET] Two members of a family whose home was swallowed by a sinkhole were found dead Tuesday evening, officials said, CNN affiliate CBC reports.

The condition of two other family members was not available. All four members of the family were found in the basement of the home, Michel C. Doré, Quebec's associate deputy public security minister,told the CBC.

[Update 2:49 p.m. ET] The mud-caked dog of a Canadian family has been found in a sinkhole that swallowed their home, but searchers have found no signs of the couple and their two daughters, ages 9 and 11, CNN affiliate CBC reported Tuesday afternoon.

Yvon Desrochers, uncle of homeowner Richard Préfontaine, told CBC he fears his nephew and his family were in the home’s basement watching the Montreal Canadiens-Pittsburgh Penguins hockey playoff game Monday night when the ground gave way beneath the home, about 40 miles northeast of Montreal.

[Posted  11:07 a.m. ET] A Quebec family of four was missing Tuesday after a massive sinkhole swallowed their home, according to reports from CNN affiliates.

Authorities said the home fell 30 feet into the hole when it opened around 9:30 p.m. Monday. A couple in their 40s and two children, ages 9 and 11, were believed to be inside, according to a report by CNN affiliate CBC news.

The couple’s vehicles were seen outside the house and efforts to reach them by cell phone were unsuccessful, authorities told the CBC.

"We tried to reach them by phone, because the father always wears his cellphone on him," Quebec Provincial Police Sgt. Ronald McKinnis told CBC. "The firefighters heard the cellphone, but they weren't able to [locate] it."

The hole was about 500 yards long and forced the evacuation of five other homes in the town of Saint-Jude, in a rural area near the Yamaska River about 40 miles northeast of Montreal, CNN affiliate CTV reported.

McKinnis told the CBC that the hole was first reported by a truck driver whose rig fell into it Monday night. He suffered only minor injuries, McKinnis said.

Search-and-rescue dogs were being called in to help the search, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette, and a helicopter was circling the area looking for signs of movement.

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Filed under: Canada
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  1. punky brewster has big ones now


    I was never making fun of them...I was making fun of all you little "critical thinkers" that through free thought have all adopted the same absurd beliefs, however if you were born in the middle of the jungle you would never be EXPOSED to your ideas and thus you would actually think differently.

    You believe in what you believe because of where you are from...Look at a map and color code it by population and religions...Very few like me exist that actually think on their own vs. saying the SKY IS FAALLING THE SKY IS FALLING.

    By the way isn't that a kids book..Grow up Christiran Morons!! I am all for faith, but not when it used to hurt people, confuse people, or control people...which is hardly ever!!!

    You guys that think you are "Christian" are the most unfunny, hateful, spiteful, and irrationale people on the planet.


    May 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sink hole cult

    I for the record am making fun of them. what kind of moron builds their house on a sink hole anyway.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. punky brewster has big ones now

    good question..I do know much aboot the answer. probably socialist pigs that are guided by the Dark Knight and have lost their faith in the White Lord of Kalimdor!! What...Kalimdor...that sound familiar man...DUDE YOU>.............NO I don't though!!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jesus christ

    Oops. Sorry about that. Me and dad were gonna put in a pool. Felt like swimming. Guess we picked the wrong spot huh

    May 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Yea Right

    Yea exactly...go on with your absurd self about "My Prayers" go out to them. What a slap in the face to someone that just got swallowed by the friggin earth. Your any cash for the surving family?!?! No..didn't think so.

    How about you get off your fat a$$ss and go to Canada and do some real help if you are so concerned. Too much work huh...yea I know.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KevinG

    I'll forego the temptation to address so many of the ridiculous posts here, and simply offer an observation:

    Drying aquifers aren't the only mechanism of sinkhole formation, though I'd bet they're the most common one. I used to live in a town in southwestern Wyoming that had a veritable honeycomb of mine shafts and tunnels underneath it from decades of mining soda ash and potash (as well as some other minerals, I think). Back in the early 70's, some of these mine tunnels, that hadn't been backfileld with sand or soil, began to subside – old wooden shoring members cracked or disintegrated, and so on. One could drive along certain streets and see houses that had a huge hump in the middle of their driveway, for instance, presumably sitting right on top of a place where there remained a rock pillar that hadn't been cut away during mining operations. I don't think anyone was seriously hurt during this time, and I know that the city (Rock Springs, WY) began an extensive backfill process with sand to try and stave off further damage. As far as I know, that's the last to be heard of the situation.

    But there must be hundreds of communities throughout North America and elsewhere that are at least susceptible to this kind of damage. A good candidate is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where iron and copper mining has carved out some impressive holes, including some shafts that actually go underneath Lake Superior!

    Anyway, I lament what is surely the loss of lives in this tragedy. No one deserves to go this way. I shall certainly pray for their deliverance, but I confess I'm not hopeful that they'll be found alive at this point.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sara


    So- you're calling us the most unfunny, hateful, spiteful and irrational people on the planet? Don't you think that everything you just said in that statement was unfunny, hateful, spiteful and irrational? A bit contradictory, unfair and judgmental, don't you think? Can't you just argue logistics and not bring in irrelevant factoids which have no basis of argument?

    And by the way, there are many people 'born in jungles' who develop faith of some kind- before Christianity, there were the pagans. So- how did THAT faith come about? How did the Norse, Roman and Greek religions (all pre-Christianity) come about?

    So- clearly people before Christians 'came up with' religions of some sort. I'm not sure how you're figuring you can dump onto Christians like that it to a.) be fair and b.) make sense.

    So- stop disrespecting the family who is trapped in this situation. This isn't a forum to just lambast people right and left, it's not up for argument.

    May 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kyle K.

    Every one calm down.

    This is very common in this part of Canada. As you can see in the video it appears that the local soil surrounding the ground that "sank" is dark gray. The type of clay in this part of Quebec is sensitive marine clay. The two unique types that can be found in this area are Leda and Champlain sea clay. These clays have a moisture content of around 80%. (80% of the mass is water = unstable ... typical medium to high plastic clays range from 18-28% can be lower or higher based on silt and plastic limits of the clay). The in situ undisturbed clay takes on a solid but gel like form. What keeps this soil (clay) in a solid state is the surface tension. (hard to elaborate and difficult to teach the soil mechanics.) Now when this clay is disturbed it will intently undergo a form liquefaction that will cause the land to flow, slide, or sink. An area this large would have been disturbed by a very small tremor or excessive rain fall. It has been recorded that this area received a significant amount of rain in the past week. These clays can also be disturbed by construction equipment causing vibration. Construction equipment caused this clay to liquefy in the past destroying many homes. There were probably no soil samples taken prior to construction of the house. Some times soil sample are not necessary.

    This is not the World taking revenge on the human population because of oil spills and human activity or a precursor to the 2012 end of the world. It more or less is very sad and unfortunate geological event. The house and the family were located at the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope the foundation and basement is in tact and that the family are safe.

    Civil Engineering Technologist.

    May 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    "Mary vegan in illinois" – perhaps you could explain how the Army Corp of engineers "filling in swamps" could cause a sinkhole in Quebec? ROFL

    May 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vince Paroose

    I do not have the exact location of the the "sink hole" event but if it is in the lower Ottawa River valley and upper St. Lawrence it is likely associated with the large areas of LEDA Clay that have very unusual physical characteristics when it becomes saturated with heavy rains or flowing water.

    The affected areas are in both Ontario & Quebec provinces.

    A lot of past similar disasters have well recorded histories and the following Google Links list many:


    May 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rod Goodwin

    All this talk about "sinkholes". The media people often get things wrong. There are many cases, especially in Quebec, where the clay soil slides into or toward the river. From the pictures, looks to me like this is another like those we've seen before.

    May 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sara

    Amen to Kevin!

    May 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mary vegan in illinois

    Just so all you fools know,everything we do on this continent has an effect on the whole cotinent,da ever heard of the the continental divid??????Probaly not!!So again by filling in the swamps+swamp land in the south will effect the north??????

    May 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sara

    What is a 'cotinent'? I have never heard of a 'cotinent'. Please explain this to me, as I am too foolish, fat and ignorant to know what it is. Also, what is a 'divid'? That's another thing I do not understand. I'm fairly sure I'm speaking largely on behalf of the 98% of literate people attempting to read this article and comments.

    May 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cliff Vegas

    Mary Vegan... eat some meat. Your brain is craving the protein.

    May 11, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
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