Canada launches helicopter rescue mission for hundreds buried in their cars in ‘harrowing’ landslides

About 275 people have been trapped in more than 100 vehicles on a highway near the mountain town of Agassiz since Sunday evening

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 16 November 2021 04:53 GMT
<p>Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopters ferry evacuees to safety</p>

Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopters ferry evacuees to safety

Authorities in Canada’s British Columbia province have sent helicopters on multiple missions to rescue hundreds of people trapped in their cars after heavy rains triggered landslides.

About 275 people, including 50 children, in more than 100 vehicles have been trapped on a highway near the mountain town of Agassiz since Sunday evening, according to city and rescue authorities.

Rescuers have been making several rounds of the affected highway with Canadian forces cormorant helicopters, bringing people from the cars to a nearby reception area.

“The situation is dynamic ... it is very difficult weather,” provincial public safety minister Mike Farnworth told reporters.

“This is a very harrowing time,” he said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. “People are working as hard and fast and safe as they can.”

He added there no deaths have been confirmed so far.

Further weather warnings have also been issued with gales due to hit the area later. Officials have said that there can be power outages.

Landslides began on Sunday in Canada’s western province after rainstorms had already disrupted life. Authorities have shut down roads and evacuated a city, while an oil pipeline has been shut and flights have been delayed.

More than 7,000 residents of Merritt city, which is about 200km from Vancouver, were asked to evacuate after the river overflowed and cut off bridges, and forced the wastewater treatment plant to shut down.

“Continued habitation of the community without sanitary services presents risk of mass sewage back-up and personal health risk,” the city said in an official notice.

Video footage on social media showed roads have been partly washed away near the town of Hope.

The Trans Mountain oil pipeline, which ships 300,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products from Alberta to the Pacific Coast, was also shut down on Monday. Work on a proposed expansion project has also been halted, the operating company said.

Landslides hit Canada just a few months after it suffered out of control wildfires, triggering record temperatures. This summer had been the harshest for Canada where blazes had already destroyed a town.

Additional reporting by agencies.

This article was amended on 18 November 2021 to remove an inaccurate reference to Vancouver as a ‘state capital’.

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