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Canada floods: Emergency services rescue hundreds trapped in cars in British Columbia

Authorities in Canada’s British Columbia (BC) province have rescued hundreds of people trapped in their vehicles on a highway after huge rainstorms sparked landslides.

Torrential downpours on Sunday shut roads and prompted the evacuation of 275 people, including 50 children, near the mountain town of Agassiz.

Video footage showed Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopters ferrying evacuees to safety. Emergency health services in BC said nine patients had been taken to hospital with minor injuries. 

Authorities in Merritt, some 200 kilometres north east of Vancouver, ordered all 8,000 citizens to leave after rising waters cut off bridges and forced the waste water treatment plant to close.

"Continued habitation of the community without sanitary services presents risk of mass sewage back-up and personal health risk," the city said in an official notice.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the government is prepared to give the town whatever assistance it needs.

10205137 Helicopters evacuate 275 trapped motorists stranded on British Columbia highway following landslides

© Via REUTERS 10205137 Helicopters evacuate 275 trapped motorists stranded on British Columbia highway following landslides

“We’re here for you,” he added.

Some areas received 8 inches of rain on Sunday – the equivalent of an entire month. The deluge continued on Monday, with roads covered by mud or up to 10 inches of water.

"The situation is dynamic ... it is very difficult weather," provincial public safety minister Mike Farnworth told reporters.

“This is a very harrowing time. People are working as hard and fast and safe as they can.”

No fatalities have been confirmed so far.

The Trans Mountain pipeline, which takes crude oil from Alberta to the Pacific Coast, was also closed after the storm. The line has a capacity of 300,000 barrels a day.

Video footage posted to social media also showed roads have been partly washed away near the town of Hope.

It is the second weather-related disaster the hit the Pacific province in just a few months. In late June, temperatures soared to a record high, prompting wildfires that wiped out the town of Lytton.

Reference: Evening Standard: Daniel Keane

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