Deadly storm cuts transport links around Vancouver

A deadly storm described by officials as a once-in-a-century weather event has severed road and rail links around Vancouver, Canada.

Two motorways connecting the West Coast city were closed after being damaged by severe flooding.

Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes due to the massive storm which struck on Monday.

A woman was killed in a highway landslide, and rescuers say at least two other people are missing.

The woman’s body was found near Lillooet, about 250km (155 miles) from Vancouver, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

RCMP Sergeant, Janelle Shoihet, said that rescuers had not yet determined the number of occupied vehicles that were lost in the slide, according to AFP news agency.

Motorist, Kathie Rennie, told CBC News she saw the landslide come down on traffic that was already at a standstill south of Lillooet.

“No sooner do we get back into our vehicles, the people that were in front of us are just screaming and running,” she said. “The look on their faces, it was like a tsunami was coming. It was the scariest thing that I’ve ever seen.

“I just turned around, and I’m just watching the whole side of the mountain coming down and taking out these cars… everything just being swept away. Just complete panic.”

The provincial minister of transportation, Rob Fleming, told a news conference it was the “worst weather storm in a century”. Minister of Public Safety, Mike Farnworth, said he had “no doubt” that the storm was linked to climate change.

Thousands of homes in British Columbia were evacuated after an “atmospheric river” – a long strip of moisture in the atmosphere that transports water from tropical regions towards the poles – dumped the region’s monthly rainfall average in just 24 hours.

All 7,000 residents of Merritt, about 120 miles north-east of Vancouver, were ordered to flee their homes on Monday.

Snow fell on there on Tuesday, and cars could be seen floating in icy flood waters in town.

Helicopter crews were also sent to the mountain town of Agassiz to rescue about 300 people who became trapped on a cut-off road.

Monday’s rains and winds had largely finished by Tuesday afternoon, but several communities remained stranded.  -AFP

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