Rescuers work to reach hundreds trapped overnight on British Columbia highway

After hammering rain, 80 to 100 vehicles became trapped between two mudslides on a Canadian highway

Don Sweeney
The Charlotte Observer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Mom Angela Howard says her two children, ages 4 and 6, are becoming frightened after spending the night trapped in their vehicle by mudslides on a Canadian highway.

“They are getting scared and it’s getting hard to stay strong for them,” Howard, of Abbotsford, told the Vancouver Sun. “My heart breaks listening to my kids (ask) for water and food and I have nothing to provide for them. Nothing can get in or out at all.”

An estimated 80 to 100 vehicles are stranded between two mudslides on Highway 7 in British Columbia, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth told the Agassiz-Harrison Observer.

Search and rescue crews are still trying to assess the situation, CBC News reported, although firefighters rescued 12 people trapped in their vehicles in one of the slides.

David Boone of the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Task Force urged motorists to stay in their vehicles. He said it’s still too dangerous for rescuers to reach people trapped by the slides.

“We won’t put our rescuers into the area until we determine it’s safe to do so,” Boone told CBC News.

Adam Wuisman was driving on Highway 7 with his girlfriend when the mudslides struck the night of Sunday, Nov. 14, he told the Vancouver Sun.

“It was pitch black and we heard a bunch of yelling, noises and screaming,” he said. “There were car horns going off and it was hard to see what was happening. Now that the sun is coming up we can see that the entire road at least 100 metres across is gone.”

“It’s a very eerie and helpless feeling,” Wuisman told the newspaper. “I spent the whole night just looking up at the mountains. There’s really nowhere you can go for refuge.”

Martina Martinkova told CBC News she’s “very stressed” after being stranded with her daughter. She said stranded motorists are starting to share food and supplies while they await word on rescue.

“You see this in the movies, honestly, and you thought it will never touch you,” Martinkova said. “It’s very scary.”

The area, which has been hit by an atmospheric river, is bracing for more rain, the Agassiz-Harrison Observer reported.

©2021 The Charlotte Observer. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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