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Sinkhole in Montreal swallows backhoe

Posted By VERONICA LINARES, UPI.com   |   Aug. 6, 2013 at 9:09 AM  |  Updated Aug. 6, 2013 at 10:04 AM   |   Comments

Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Canadian officials expect to remove a backhoe that fell into sinkhole in downtown Montreal on Tuesday.

The eight meter long, five meter across, and three meter deep hole reportedly opened up at about 9 a.m. at the intersection of Guy and St-Catherine streets.

A spokeswoman for the Ville-Marie borough, Emilie Miskdjian, explained that removing the machinery is complicated because there is a gas line nearby. However, authorities have come up with a plan, and are currently waiting for approval from Quebec's workplace health and safety authority for the go-ahead.

In the meantime, traffic will remain blocked on Guy Street between René-Lévesque and Maisonneuve boulevards, as well as on St-Catherine between St-Mathieu and Guy streets.

Miskdjian added that the sinkhole might be linked to a faulty water pipe as city officials received a call over the weekend regarding a water leak in the same spot.

When crews arrived Monday morning to repair the leak, the sinkhole opened up underneath them.

"We think that the water leak was because of the sewer pipe…it's a broken sewer pipe," she said. "That's what we think, but we will have to do an inspection to determine the cause."

Following complaints from citizens who allegedly alerted city officials of the leak problem months ago,
City Councillor Richard Deschamps said workers were doing their best to keep the city safe and added that officials "can't secure every corner we have in the city."

Officials added that it will remain unclear how much repair work needs to be done until after the backhoe is removed. Until then, they can't say how long the street will be closed.

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