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Risky rescue effort underway for missing workers after landslide at Quebec quarry

A rescue worker checks out a buried vehicle at a quarry in L'Epiphanie, Que., Tuesday, January 29, 2013. A dramatic rescue operation is underway following an apparent landslide at the quarry, with two workers missing. They are trapped under the earth at a gravel quarry just east of Montreal.


A risky rescue operation is underway following an apparent landslide that swept several vehicles into a deep quarry, with two workers missing.

They are trapped in gravel at the bottom of a pit described by authorities as nearly 100 metres deep, just east of Montreal.

A third worker managed to escape his excavator with what police describe as minor injuries, after the vehicle tumbled down the steep embankment.

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The torrent of earth swept along two trucks and one excavation vehicle, which collapsed into the quarry Tuesday morning. The excavator had been used to fill the trucks with gravel at the site, which is operated by Maskimo Construction Inc.

"For reasons we can't explain there was a landslide," said provincial police spokesman Benoit Richard.

"The two trucks, and the excavator, completely fell — or descended — into the hole."

One of the vehicles was found empty.

Authorities are having trouble accessing the area and have had to call in a helicopter. The provincial police chopper has arrived at the site to whisk away the worker who escaped.

Richard said the worker is suffering from frostbite and shock.

The chopper has had to navigate a narrow crevasse each time it has dropped off rescuers in the quarry.

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"It's kind of a risky and a tough situation," Mr. Richard said.

The helicopter also dropped off rescue workers in the pit, along with a sniffer dog. The rescuers were seen searching one of the trucks that fell into a bed of grey gravel at the bottom of the quarry.

The vehicle was partially buried in the gravel and was lying almost completely upside down, almost like a toy truck.

Rescuers were apparently trying to dig through the gravel to reach the cab of the truck — but it was found empty.

Richard said a firefighter with a thermal camera was also at the bottom of the mostly-snow-covered pit, searching for the missing workers.

He explained why it was difficult to get to the site.

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"The terrain was completely broken — the road too," he said.

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