British Columbia battered: Canada rail, road links cut by floods, mudslides reestablished

Fourth body found after landslide caused by heavy rains swept vehicles off the road

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Debris is piled up as farms are surrounded by floodwaters caused by heavy rains and mudslides in Abbotsford, British Columbia. (Photo: AP)
Debris is piled up as farms are surrounded by floodwaters caused by heavy rains and mudslides in Abbotsford, British Columbia. (Photo: AP)

Published: Tue 23 Nov 2021, 7:10 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Nov 2021, 7:11 AM

Vital road and rail links between Vancouver and the rest of Canada that were severed by catastrophic floods and mudslides were mostly reestablished Monday, said officials.

Air Canada has also significantly increased its cargo capacity into and out of the Pacific coastal city since Sunday to ease major supply chain disruptions.

Torrential rains hit the region last week, causing widespread flooding and mudslides that damaged or destroyed roads and bridges, forced thousands to evacuate their homes and left at least four dead and one missing, according to AFP.

Authorities have had to ration fuel and urge locals not to hoard food as the province struggles with storm-related supply difficulties.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

“Essential goods and services are moving again,” British Columbia’s transportation minister, Rob Fleming, told a news conference.

The province’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, however, warned of more rain and “further storms in the coming weeks.”

“It’s been just over a week since one of the worst natural disasters to hit our province. Our response is still ongoing and will be for quite some time,” he said.

Some areas expect snow Monday and Tuesday, which could reach 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inches), according to Environment Canada.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Two out of three highways into Vancouver (Highways 7 and 99) have been cleared of debris and reopened for essential travel.

The main Trans-Canada highway, however, remains flooded east of the city near Chilliwack, Fleming said, urging British Columbians to “only travel if it’s absolutely essential.”


Canadian Pacific said it expects to reopen its main rail line between Vancouver and Kamloops on Tuesday, as it continues “working with customers to get the supply chain back in sync” and with the port of Vancouver to clear a backlog of container shipments.

Air Canada said it has repurposed 28 passenger flights to carry cargo, in addition to 13 all-cargo flights, to move mail and perishables such as seafood, as well as automotive parts and other industrial goods.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

“The additional (cargo) capacity is equivalent in weight to approximately 860 adult moose,” or 586 tonnes, the airline said in a statement.

The extreme weather came after British Columbia province suffered record-high temperatures over the summer that killed more than 500 people, as well as wildfires that destroyed a town.

4th body found after mudslide

The British Columbia Coroners Service has confirmed the discovery of three more bodies near the village of Pemberton, bringing to four the number of people who died in a landslide caused by heavy rains that swept vehicles off the road.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

The search continues for a fifth body, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement Saturday.

According to a AP report, the mudslide occurred Monday when a wave of rock and debris covered a section of the highway between Lillooet and Pemberton.

The body of a woman was recovered Monday.

Lapointe said another body was recovered Wednesday and two additional bodies were found on Thursday.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

“Efforts continued Friday to locate a fifth person reported as missing, but unfortunately those attempts were unsuccessful,” she said.

The British Columbia government announced Friday it is limiting the amount of fuel people can purchase at gas stations in some parts of the province and is restricting nonessential travel as highways begin to reopen following the storms.

Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said nonessential vehicles will be limited to about eight gallons (30 liters) per trip to the gas station. The order is expected to last until Dec. 1.

Environment Canada says 24 B.C. communities received close to 4 inches (100 millimeters) of rain from Saturday to Monday.

The precautionary closure of the Trans Mountain Pipeline during the flooding has raised concerns about a fuel shortage in province’s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

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