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Mudslide closes highway in B.C.


Mudslide between Hope and Chilliwack shut down Trans- Canada Highway Wednesday
Mudslide between Hope and Chilliwack shut down Trans- Canada Highway Wednesday

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

June 30, 2011 — The Trans-Canada Highway between Hope and Chilliwack, B.C. was shut down on Wednesday after a mudslide rolled through.

Mudslides are common in BC with several small creeks nearby
Mudslides are common in BC with several small creeks nearby

A mudslide roared down the Trans-Canada Highway on Wednesday closing the highway in both directions and covering a CN train in mud.

“At approximately 10:30 am (PT), a slide occurred near Herrling Island and one vehicle that we know of was impacted by the slide,” says Lynn Orstad, Emergency Program Manager at Fraser Valley Regional District. Orstad adds that the female driver was able to get herself out of the car with minimal injury.

RCMP and emergency crews fled to the scene to ensure no other vehicles were buried in mud.

But the Trans Canada highway reopened early Thursday morning since the mudslide hit the Hope and Chilliwack areas.

“We do know at the time a CN Rail Train was going through the area, however it has been confirmed that the train did not derail, approximately 20 cars had mud around it from this slide,” explains Orstad.

The mudslide was initially described as “fluid,” meaning material consisting of water and mud continues to fall after the original slide itself. Orstad says geo-technical engineers flew over the site on Wednesday afternoon and confirmed the slope had stabilized. “They've said everything that was going to come down, has come down.”

Emergency crews did not find any buried vehicles after searching the area, but police say the depth of mud and debris makes it difficult to know for certain that there's nothing else below. The slide was approximately 40 metres wide and up to 15 metres high.

Drivers are encouraged to stay out of the area while emergency response is dealing with the situation. Two lanes of the westbound portion of Highway 1 had reopened to traffic Thursday morning, according to the Transportation Ministry. Eastbound lanes however, remain closed and traffic is being re-routed along Highway 7.

The immediate cause of the slide is still unknown, but Orstad explains there have been weather related slides in the past. “In the area where this slide has occurred, in the past we have had slides before. A couple of years ago, we had quite a few slides in this area, maybe 10 to 14 literally all along the highway.”

With files from Sana Ahmed

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