Image: Destroyed house
Shaun Best  /  Reuters
A house is seen enguled in a sinkhole in Saint-Jude, Quebec, on Tuesday. news services
updated 5/11/2010 11:29:08 PM ET 2010-05-12T03:29:08

All four members of a family missing in a farmhouse swallowed up by a landslide northeast of Montreal were found dead, CBC reported Tuesday.

"They were found very close to one another, some of the lying on the couch in the family room in the basement, where we were told that they'd be," said Michel C. Doré, Quebec's associate deputy public security minister, who was on the scene.

The Saint-Jude home was swept away after the land beneath their home gave way on Monday night. Saint-Jude is a town of 1,000 residents north of St-Hyacinthe near the Yamaska River.

"It's a pretty gigantic crater," said Francois 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 that 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 shift.

Earlier, rescuers were able to get to the collapsed house, but could not locate the missing man and a woman in their 40s and their children, aged 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.

"Then other firefighters from St. Hyacinthe came, got into the house and the same thing happened, so they also got out," he said.

Soil scientists later arrived on the scene to determine if the ground was stable enough for rescuers to re-enter the home, he said.

Mayor Yves Bellefeuille said the community is in shock, especially since the home is not in an area considered to be at risk.

Police said at least five other houses have been evacuated in the area, affecting about 20 people. Police have closed a stretch of a secondary road where the houses are located.

Information from and The Associated Press is included in this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: 4 missing after home falls in sinkhole

  1. Closed captioning of: 4 missing after home falls in sinkhole

    >>> welcome back. a family of four is missing after their home was swallowed by a sink hole northeast of montreal, canada. authorities said the house partially collapsed in the small town about an hour from montreal. part of the house along with three cars and a portion of the highway were swept away . you see the video here. reporter amanda pfeifer of the canadian broadcasting corporation joins us now. what's the latest from there.

    >> well, right now as we speak, they are trying to drain the basement. if you could see those horrific pictures, they're trying to drain the basement of water to see if there are any signs of life . they have been inside the home now. they have not found anybody inside. they tried to call the father of this family. the cell phone they could hear ringing, but no response from the father of this family. now, this drama, just a horrific drama, has been ongoing since about 9:00 last night. a neighbor next door said he heard what sounded like an earthquake. he ran out of his house, and he said the entire landscape in front of him had changed. no more trees where trees had been. and his neighbor's home had sunk toward the river down below him. this morning about two or three hours ago from that muck and wreckage, a dog emerged. one of the family pets, a golden retriever , emerged from that muck. so farther still calling this a rescue mission . but very difficult to know the family here by the side of the river, hoping for any sign that this family, a father, a mother and two children, 9 and 11, trapped inside their home, no news yet of what's happened to them.

    >> oh, my goodness. canadian broadcasting corporation , we'll continue to follow this story as that rescue effort, as you put it, is under way. thank you, amanda.

    >>> a kindergarten teacher in georgia


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