Rescuers with dogs to start looking for victims of Canada landslides

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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Search teams using dogs will on Tuesday start looking for people whose cars may have been buried in landslides triggered by heavy rains across the Canadian province of British Columbia, a senior official said.

The storms, which started on Sunday, wrecked roads in eastern parts of the Pacific province, forced an oil pipeline to close and limited land access to Vancouver, the largest city.

Canadian Pacific Rail said it was shutting down its Vancouver main line because of the flooding.

Rescuers equipped with diggers and dogs will start dismantling large mounds of debris.

“If a bit of machinery contacts a vehicle or the dogs indicate a person, that’s when we stop and … dig by hand until we find what they were indicating, to confirm whether it’s a live victim or if it’s a recovery,” Captain John Gormick of Vancouver’s heavy urban search and rescue team told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Some areas received eight inches (200 mm) of rain on Sunday, the amount that usually falls in a month.

Helicopters carried out multiple missions on Monday to rescue hundreds of people trapped in their vehicles when mudslides cut off a highway near the mountain town of Agassiz, about 120km (75 miles) east of Vancouver.

Authorities in Merritt, some 200 kilometers north east of Vancouver, ordered all 8,000 citizens to leave.

The landslides and floods come less than six months after a wild fire gutted an entire town, as temperatures in the province soared.

The storms forced the closure of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which takes crude oil from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. The line has a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)



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