British Columbia

4 people now missing in mudslide south of Lillooet on Highway 99, RCMP say

RCMP say they are now dealing with four missing persons connected to the mudslide that swept across a section of Highway 99, also known as the Duffey Lake Road, south of Lillooet on Nov. 15.

Body of woman recovered from the slide site earlier this week is so far the only confirmed fatality

Fallen trees and debris are pictured on Monday after a flood swept over Highway 99, also known as Duffey Lake Road, between Pemberton and Lillooet, in B.C.'s southern Interior. Officals now say four people are missing in the area. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Reuters)

RCMP say they are now dealing with four missing persons connected to the mudslide that swept across a section of Highway 99, also known as the Duffey Lake Road, south of Lillooet on Nov. 15.

The body of a woman recovered from the slide site earlier this week is so far the only confirmed fatality.

"We do know that number is likely to rise once we reach some specific areas," said B.C. RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts on Thursday.

"The Duffey Lake area slide continues to be a challenging situation. We want to make sure the search for missing persons or victims is done as safely as we can."

The Duffey Lake slide is one of dozens of mudslides that took out major roads in southwestern British Columbia during extreme rain this past weekend.

Roberts said police have received a number of calls about potential missing people and are working to verify the status of each.

"We are not in position to confirm the actual numbers as it does fluctuate as we conduct those investigations and determine whether or not they are missing," she said.

Essential travel only, police urge

The RCMP, Ministry of Transportation, Emergency Management B.C., the B.C. Coroners Service, Lillooet and Pemberton Search and Rescue are collaborating on the search.

Efforts to reopen Highway 99/Duffey Lake Road are being done in consideration of the search for the four missing people, said Paula Cousins, regional executive director with the Ministry of Transportation.

"As we get the roadway clear and [search] activities continue, we will work together to determine the timing of reopening," she said. "If recovery efforts are required beyond that, there will be privacy fencing and other things to ensure the sensitivity of the site is protected and preserved."

Provincial Transportation Minister Rob Flemming said the stretch of Highway 99 that connects Pemberton and Lillooet could open on a very limited basis in the coming days. 

"On the 99, this will not be business as usual. This will be slower with occasional stoppages where we have to alternate. If it's not essential to travel, please do not do so," he said.

WATCH | Why wildfires may have made flooding worse:

Summer fires in B.C. Interior may have made flooding, mudslides worse

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As some communities in the B.C. Interior remain cut off from the rest of the province, some are pointing to the summer’s fires as one reason the water came in so quickly.

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