B.C. promises review of fatal landslide

The B.C. government says it will conduct a review of the devastating landslide that killed four people in the tiny Kootenay community of Johnsons Landing.

The B.C. government says it will conduct a review of the devastating landslide that killed four people in the tiny Kootenay community of Johnsons Landing.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson says the review is necessary to see if any lessons can be learned from the tragedy in the hamlet about 70 kilometres northeast of Nelson. The terms of reference for the review will be determined later, he said.

"We want to make sure that we go back and review the situation and circumstances and see are there lessons learned — what could have been learned from the lead up to the event. As we pointed out, there was some early warning," said Thomson.

The Forests Ministry confirmed earlier it received an email from an area resident in the hours before the slide about concerns that debris was clogging an area creek.

In the email the woman, whose name wasn't released by the ministry, said she noticed "surges of chocolate-coloured water that came down Gar Creek," each bringing down a significant number of logs and debris and causing a jam.

"As soon as the log jam formed, gravel began to be deposited behind it," she said. "The entire level of the creek bed has now been raised at least [1.8 metres] in that area."

The woman wrote later that the whole creek was flowing over and down her driveway and made reference to a conversation with a friend, who had search and rescue experience, who told her to stay on high ground.

Hours later, the mountainside gave way, destroying three homes and trapping four people beneath several meters of debris.

Opposition says cuts hampered early detection

The Opposition New Democrats have argued the B.C. Liberals have cut more than 1,000 forest service positions since 2001, which could be hampering the province's ability to prevent or provide early detection of landslides.

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But Premier Christy Clark dismissed those allegations, saying experts are telling her no amount of study could have predicted the deadly Johnsons Landing slide.

Clark added provincial officials are on high alert for new slide risks, but the sheer volume of water and run-off remaining in B.C.'s mountains makes finding all the potential slides nearly impossible.

Meanwhile two people are still missing, but the remains of two others have been found in the mud, boulders and logs that crashed down on three homes last Thursday at Johnsons Landing.

The coroners service says crews will return to the site north of Kaslo on Kootenay Lake on Tuesday to continue the search for the remaining two bodies believed to be buried under tonnes of debris.

The body of a young woman was pulled from under as much as 10 metres of nearly rock-hard mud on Monday afternoon. It's believed the remains are those of either 17-year-old Rachel Webber or her 22-year-old sister, Diana.

A man's body, believed to be that of 60 year-old Valentine Webber — father of the two women — was found on Sunday, about three metres from the woman's body. Recovery teams are still looking for the second sister and 64-year-old German visitor Petra Frehse.

Clean-up continues at Fairmont Hot Springs resort

Meanwhile at the site of a second slide at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in the East Kootenay region of B.C. hundreds of people stranded by a washed out bridge, have now been released from what became an enforced vacation.

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The campers were trapped when a slide rushed down a creek on Sunday afternoon, tearing out the only bridge to the campsite and causing significant damage to several other properties in the resort community.

Crews managed to rebuild the bridge late yesterday, winning an enthusiastic round of applause from onlookers. No one was hurt when the slide occurred, but damage to buildings and lands of two resort hotels, as well as a number of private properties, is expected to reach into the millions of dollars.