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
soundoff (335 Responses)
  1. Duh Doi

    People should have listened to Al Gore

    May 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    Hi Mary vegan in Illinois. You're so sweet with your idiotic blabber. Why don't you go take a nap. You're probably so tired because of your malnuourished brain. Try a little protein you moron. Anyway, they found the dog, so maybe there's still a chance that the family is still alive too. Maybe there are some air pockets and the rescuers can get them out before they croak. Good luck and Godspeed!

    May 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ignornance is Bliss

    It's obamas fault clearly.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Barack Obama

    It's the Bush administrations' years of bad policies.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kyle K.

    like i said before...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 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lilac

    Why must people die!

    May 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. M-E

    I just heard on the Radio that the S&R found the dad. We do not know if he is alive...but we do know he's stucked. According to family members: at that time, the whole family was in the basement watching the playoff game. Strange thing, the family golden retriever was found in the mud. At first he looked weak and dying...but he recovered and is now as lively as can be. We do not know if he was inside or outside the house when everything happened. I keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the family.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary vegan in illinois

    Sarah, I meant divide +continent.I was trying to hurry!!Maybe Sarah you should get a life???Oh i am glad the dog survived!!Hope they find rest of family alive???????Oh i wish i was perfect like SARAH HA HA

    May 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary vegan in illinois

    OH sorry you spell your name sara not sarah ? So your parents do not know how to spell either?????And Kevin what do you know??????

    May 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anna

    Why would anyone feel the need to say something rude when a family, including two children, have probably died? What absolute nasty individuals. Go & find something better to do.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Speak_Up

    Unfortunately, they didn't make it...

    May 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stephen

    Is this area close to where Canada extracts oil?

    In an area of China they have seen 28 sink holes recently.

    It is interested, when you take material out of the earth you leave empty space,

    Something has to fill it which is usually the earth about it.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mel

    Just got news, the whole family is dead. This is sad, guys. 🙁

    May 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. oldmh

    I clicked the link on the CNN tweet because this story sounded so horrifying. How awful for this family! But the comments all by themselves have been so fascinating I had to read all 200 plus. Like a well-crafted but perverse short story in the New Yorker. That said, my thoughts go out to this family. If they didn't survive, I hope they went quickly.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kyle K.

    All 4 found dead. No this is not mining related the oil extraction is 4000km west in Alberta. Its related to preexisting unstable soil conditions.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
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