Residents returning to their homes after killer Quebec landslide

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Disaster

A deadly landslide in Quebec has prompted government experts to conduct emergency soil tests to ensure a similar tragedy doesn't happen in the region again.

Four people were killed in the village of St-Jude, about 75 kilometres east of Montreal, when a huge chunk of land suddenly gave way Monday night, sweeping their family home along with it.

Rescue workers work at the site where a family of four was found dead after their house was swept away in a landslide Tuesday in St-Jude, Que. An old-style country house described as the loveliest in a lush farming community was suddenly sucked into the e

Montreal -

A deadly landslide in Quebec has prompted government experts to conduct emergency soil tests to ensure a similar tragedy doesn't happen in the region again.

Four people were killed in the village of St-Jude, about 75 kilometres east of Montreal, when a huge chunk of land suddenly gave way Monday night, sweeping their family home along with it.

Given a landslide that left a crater as big as several football fields, authorities are now concerned about the safety of other homes and businesses in the area.

Quebec's civil security service has asked a team of experts to start testing properties by Friday.

"(We want) to evaluate the imminence of soil erosion in other risk areas in the region, beginning here in St-Jude," Michel C. Dore, the department's associate deputy minister in charge of emergency co-ordination, told reporters in St-Jude.

Among the areas of greatest concern is the riverbank below the house that was swept from its foundations.

"We want to conduct tests all along the Salvail River to make sure there are no other sites that could collapse," Mayor Yves de Bellefeuille said.

Around two dozen people who were forced to flee following the landslide were allowed to return home Wednesday morning.

But although the five evacuated homes are now considered safe, many residents are worried about the stability of their property.

"Obviously the citizens are concerned but we know throughout the valley there are landslides," de Bellefeuille said.

"But landslides of this size fortunately don't happen often."

The soil in southwestern Quebec, where the rural town of St-Jude is located, is composed heavily of clay which normally appears stable. But changes in temperature or hydrology can quickly liquefy the soil, causing severe erosion.

Officials estimate there are more than 100 landslides in Quebec annually.

Geographic location: Quebec, St-Jude, Montreal Salvail River

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