Heavy rains force evacuations, trap motorists in Canada

OTTAWA (AFP) – Relentless rain battered Canada’s Pacific coast on Monday (Nov 15), forcing evacuations and sending mudslides, rocks and debris across highways that left motorists trapped east of Vancouver.

“Heavy rains and subsequent mudslides/flooding have impacted various highways in the BC interior,” British Columbia’s transportation ministry said on Twitter.

Rescuers were deployed to free up to 150 people trapped in their cars and trucks between two mudslides near the town of Agassiz, according to local reports. Officials did not immediately confirm how many people had been pulled from stranded vehicles.

In the city of Abbotsford, outside Vancouver, authorities ordered more than 100 homes evacuated in several neighbourhoods threatened by flooding and mudslides.

The town of Merritt, 190km east of the coastal city, also urged residents to leave. Emergency centres were set up in both communities for displaced residents.

Environment Canada said in a statement up to 250mm of rain was expected by the afternoon in and around Vancouver, which was also hit last week by a rare tornado.

“A significant atmospheric river event continues to (bring) copious amounts of rain to the BC south coast today,” it said. “Heavy rain will continue this morning and ease this afternoon as the system moves inland.”

The extreme weather comes 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.

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