Bodies of family found after Canadian landslide

Authorities in Canada today said they have found the bodies of all four members of a family who went missing after their house was swallowed by a gaping sinkhole.









Authorities said the family was in the basement watching an ice hockey game on Monday night when a massive landslide hit in Saint-Jude, a town of 1,000, north east of Montreal.

"After digging and going through the rubble we found the four victims," Michael Dore, Quebec's emergency management co-ordinator, said. "They were found very close to one another, some of them lying on the couch in the family room in the basement."

The first body found belonged to father Richard Prefontaine. The others were his wife Lynne Charbonneau and daughters Anais, nine, and Amelie, believed to be 11.

They were cheering on the Montreal Canadiens in their Stanley Cup play-off game against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the landslide tore a hole more than four times the size of a football field into Saint-Jude.

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

This sinkhole swallowed three cars, a stretch of concrete road and most of the house that once sat by a cliff over a tributary of the Yamaska River. The landslide pulled down that cliff.

Rescue workers struggled for almost a full day - at times digging with their hands - to enter a home that was mostly buried in mud with only its green roof left peeking out.

"It's a pretty gigantic crater," said Francois Gregoire, a fire department spokesman. "It's hard imagining something like this. It's pretty impressive."

The family's green yard was transformed into an undulating mess of tangled trees, grass and clay blocks.

Mayor Yves de Bellefeuille said the incident had the small village in shock, especially since the home is not in an area considered to be at risk.

The St Lawrence and Ottawa valleys are laden with clay deposited in low coastal areas during the last Ice Age.

The clay is very sensitive and, if disturbed, can lose its physical strength and liquefy, causing its slope to collapse and the land to slide.

Natural Resources Canada said clay earth flows have caused 100 deaths in modern times, including the destruction of two Quebec towns - Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette in 1908 and St-Jean-Vianney in 1971.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent