State of emergency declared after B.C. slide
A huge landslide north of Whistler, B.C., has prompted an evacuation alert for about 4,000 people in the area.
A state of emergency has also been declared for the village of Pemberton and Electoral Areas A and C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
The two-kilometre wide slide washed over and completely dammed Meager Creek, about 75 kilometres west of Pemberton, around 7 a.m., severing access on the only road connecting the remote area and partially blocking Lillooet River.
An evacuation alert was issued for the area near the slide early Friday evening, and emergency officials were handing out notices at people's homes in the Lillooet River floodplain, including parts of Pemberton and Mount Currie.
The regional district says the immediate threat to the area is the possibility of a rapid release of water from the lake forming behind the dam created by the slide.
Campers evacuated by helicopter
Whistler RCMP Sgt. Sean Lemay told CTV News Friday morning that no one is believed to have been hurt in the slide.
"There's a mix of debris, rock and snow," he said.
"We got them out and we were done with the evacuation process around lunchtime, and now we're just triple-checking, confirming that everyone is safe and sound and everyone is accounted for."
A total of 13 people were trapped on the north side of the slide Friday morning. Five of those were local miners who chose to stay behind and remain on high ground, according to police.
Those evacuated, mostly recreational and seasonal campers, have been taken to nearby Pemberton, where most of them live. Pemberton Search and Rescue is helping to move the displaced people.
The area is tucked away in the Coast Mountains approximately 250 kilometres northwest of Vancouver and is a popular hiking and recreation area for local residents.
The slide has blocked Meager Creek and the Lillooet River has cut a new channel as a result of the slide.
Ian Indridson of the province's public safety ministry says officials from the ministries of Environment and Forests will assess the slide and determine whether road closures or further public safety warnings are needed.
Premier Gordon Campbell, who was at a premiers meeting in Winnipeg, was relieved no one was hurt.
"It looks like there's been no personal injury or loss of life, which of course is the first thing that you're always concerned about," Campbell said in an interview.
"I think we're all concerned about what the impact may be on Pemberton and that area, so we have emergency personnel up there now and the RCMP up there now. We'll try to do everything we can to try to make sure that there's no further damage."
The area, hailed as one of the most unstable valleys in British Columbia, has seen several large slides in recent decades, including one in 1998, when 1.2 million cubic metres of material came down from Mount Meager, according to a report on the provincial government website.
No one was killed or injured during that slide, but the debris dammed a creek and formed an 800-metre lake.
The Meager Hot Springs were closed earlier this year after Capricorn Creek washed out, effectively cutting off vehicle access.
With files from The Canadian Press