Two trucks and a loading shovel were swept away Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in a landslide at a quarry in L'epiphanie, QC
Credits: MAXIME DELAND/QMI AGENCY
L'EPIPHANIE, Quebec - Two workers were missing and another was rescued after a landslide swallowed up three vehicles at a Montreal-area quarry on Tuesday.
The ground gave way around 10:45 a.m. at the Maskimo quarry in l'Epiphanie, Que., about 45 minutes northeast of Montreal.
Rescuers searched for a man and a woman believed to have been buried in tonnes of earth and rock that had slid into the 200- by 400-metre opening.
A third worker was seen at the bottom of the quarry, covered in dust, walking around in apparent shock.
He spoke with rescuers on his cellphone for several minutes before a rescuer rappelled into the sinkhole.
He gave the man a jacket, tied him to a line and the helicopter extracted both men from the area.
Meanwhile, a plume of smoke could be seen rising from a vehicle that was on its side, buried in debris.
Paramedics and police officers arrived on scene around 11 a.m. but were unable to descend into the hole. Debris could be seen tumbling into the opening.
Three rescuers, armed with shovels, eventually rappelled into the quarry and dug through the earth.
"It was impossible to lower a vehicle (in)," said provincial police spokesman Benoit Richard. "No access was possible and not by foot because the earth was unstable."
Authorities say the ground at the bottom of the quarry is "a type of quicksand" and the tethered rescuers struggled to keep their footing.
Firefighters used a heat-sensing camera to try and find the victims. A police dog and a large crane were also brought to the scene.
Employees with the excavation company whose workers are missing questioned the safety of the quarry when met by reporters.