Thousands evacuated amid torrential rain, mudslides in Canada

World Tuesday 16/November/2021 16:23 PM
By: DW
Thousands evacuated amid torrential rain, mudslides in Canada

Torrential downpours triggered flooding and mudslides in Canada's westernmost province of British Columbia on Monday, trapping motorists on a highway overnight and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people from a town.

Canadian officials said up to 250 millimeters (almost 10 inches) of rain were expected by the end of the day in and around Vancouver. That is the amount of precipitation the region normally receives in an entire month.

Nearly 300 people were rescued by helicopter from Highway 7 near the town of Agassiz after 80 to 100 cars were trapped between two mudslides. Some 70 children were among those affected, according to a joint statement by the City of Vancouver and Canada Task Force 1. Many of the motorists were without food or water, authorities said.

Emergency health services said nine people were transported to the hospital with minor injuries from the Agassiz landslide.

The deluges also forced the town of Merritt, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the coast, to issue an evacuation order for its 7,000 residents after flooding affected the local wastewater treatment plant and washed out two bridges. People in the town were warned not to use water from faucets or flush their toilets.

Another 100 homes in the town of Abbotsford, near Vancouver, were threatened by flooding and landslides.

On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged people to stay safe and promised rapid assistance to those affected.

The downpours follow a summer that saw record-high temperatures, with some 500 people dying of heat-related causes. Vancouver was also hit last week by a rare tornado.