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Deadly mudslides, floods in Canada after Pacific north-west storm

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The body of a woman was recovered from one of the mudslides caused by extremely heavy rainfall in the Pacific coast Canadian province of British Columbia, authorities said Tuesday.

Police said search and rescue personnel were continuing to look for other possible victims from Monday’s slides.

David MacKenzie, the Pemberton District Search and Rescue manager, said his team came across seven vehicles at the slide site on Highway 99 near the town of Lillooet and police were trying to determine if there were any other bodies.

“It is a significant amount of debris. It makes it very difficult for our search crews. The mud is up to their waist. I can’t recall our team being involved in anything like this in the past,” he said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said the total number of people and vehicles unaccounted for had not yet been confirmed. She said investigators had received reports of two other people who were missing but added that other motorists might have been buried in the slide.

Jonathan Gormick, spokesman for the Vancouver Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team, said that while the roadway had been cleared of potentially trapped vehicles or people, they would now be searching the slide’s debris field.

About 300 people spent Sunday night in their vehicles and were helicoptered to safety Monday.

Elsewhere in the province, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said impassable highways were creating havoc in his city as police and firefighters tried to get people to evacuation centers.

“It breaks my heart to see what’s going on in our city,” Braun said.

Sunny skies followed two days of torrential storms that dumped the typical amount of rain that the city gets in all of November, but the mayor said the water was still rising and Highway 1 would be cut shut down for some time.

Braun said he was worried about getting enough information from officials in Washington state about water levels that have risen dramatically from the overflowing Nooksack River and over the Sumas dike.

“When are we going to crest? When is it going to level off here? It’s like a full cup of coffee. Once it’s full, it keeps flowing over the sides,’ he said.

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