02/01/2013 09:43 EST | Updated 04/03/2013 05:12 EDT

Unstable ground puts Quebec quarry search on hold

The recovery mission to find the bodies of two truck operators buried in a landslide at a quarry near L'Épiphanie, Que., has been put on hold until Saturday morning because of concerns about another landslide.

An expert on the scene said the ground at the top of the quarry was too unstable.

Police have acknowledged they don't expect to find survivors as the search for two missing truck operators buried in a landslide at quarry near l'Épiphanie, Que., entered its fourth day.

"We are looking for victims," Repentigny police Sgt. Bruno Marier said Friday.

The search had to be called off late Thursday morning when high winds made it too dangerous to fly helicopters and to operate a crane that had been erected at the site to help crews search for the man and woman still missing.

A second crane was moved onto the site Thursday, and its first task Friday was to lower a geological expert to the bottom of the pit to check whether it was safe to operate heavy equipment on the unstable ground.

"For the past two days we had rain — and strong winds yesterday," Marier explained. "We need to make sure to provide a safe environment for the workers before we authorize them to go down."

He said the searchers were eager to resume the arduous task of digging through the rubble.

"The rescue workers are fresh," Marier said. "They had a good night's rest, so they're ready to go this morning."

Close to two dozen firefighters from Repentigny and Montreal as well as members of the Quebec provincial police are being aided by heavy equipment operators, who will be using backhoes to clear tightly packed debris from around the two buried trucks.

Part of one truck is visible, and Marier said searchers "have reason to believe the second truck is right next to it."

"It's just that you can't see it because it's completely buried," he said. "We think if we dig around the first truck, we'll gain access to the cabin of the second truck."

Within hours of the landslide on Tuesday, rescue crews were able to reach the cabin of the truck that's partly exposed but found it empty.

They conjecture that the driver of that vehicle either jumped or was ejected from the truck as it tumbled about 100 metres down the quarry face and was buried in mud and rubble.