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Quebec police launch probe after deadly landslide

Rescuers search for missing workers in a quarry at L'Epiphanie, Que., Tuesday, January 29, 2013, following a landslide where a number of vehicles fell into the quarry. Four days after a landslide at a Quebec quarry, rescue crews recovered the body of a man and a woman from the rubble.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Quebec provincial police and the province's workplace safety board have launched an investigation into a deadly landslide at a quarry near Montreal.

Gregory Gomez, a spokesman for the police force, said Sunday officers will try to determine the circumstances of the accident now that the recovery effort is over.

The bodies of two missing workers — a woman and a man — were pulled from the rubble on Saturday, four days after a landslide at the gravel quarry in L'Epiphanie, Que., east of Montreal.

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Police will examine whether the company operating the quarry, Maskimo Construction Inc., followed the appropriate safety protocols, Mr. Gomez said in an interview.

"We've done some analysis on the site and in the pit," he said.

"We're going to try to determine what happened, the sequence of events, and if there is criminal wrongdoing in this incident."

The man who died in the landslide has been identified as 54-year-old Daniel Brisebois. Police haven't yet confirmed the identity of the woman.

A third worker, Benoit Robert, was rescued by a provincial police helicopter on Tuesday within hours of the collapse.

Rescue efforts were put on hold during the week due to bad weather and concerns of another landslide.

Maskimo Construction has come under scrutiny before. The company was fined in 2008 after failing to follow safety protocols when a worker was run over by a truck at a road construction project a year earlier.

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The company held a press conference on Saturday extending its sympathies to the victims' families and promising to co-operate with investigators.

When Mr. Robert spoke with reporters last week, he said he didn't blame his employer and described them as responsible and supportive.

Jacques Nadeau, a spokesman for Quebec's workplace safety board, said the investigation would include interviewing workers who were at the site and geological experts.

"We'll have to look at the history behind the company, but every accident is unique," he said, adding that the investigation would take about six months.

Mr. Nadeau said there are about 30 quarry sites in Quebec but he has no record of a similar accident happening in the past.

"When accidents like this happen, we want to make sure that we can get some lessons and make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

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