Canadian floods cut rail links, one dead

·2-min read

Floods and landslides that have killed at least one person have cut all rail access to Canada's largest port in the city of Vancouver, a port official says.

Two days of torrential rain across the Pacific province of British Columbia has caused major flooding and shut rail routes operated by Canadian Pacific Rail and Canadian National Railway, Canada's two biggest rail companies.

"All rail service coming to and from the Port of Vancouver is halted because of flooding in the British Columbia interior," port official Matti Polychronis said.

At least one person was killed when a mudslide swept cars off Highway 99 near the town of Pemberton, 160km northeast of Vancouver.

Two people were missing, with search and rescue crews combing through the rubble, officials said.

Vancouver's port moves $605 million worth of cargo a day, ranging from automobiles and finished goods to essential commodities.

Del Dosdall, senior export manager at grain handler Parrish & Heimbecker, said he expected some rail services could be restored by the weekend.

Another industry source said he expected the shutdown to last weeks.

Floods have also hampered energy resources, with one segment of a natural gas pipeline in the region closed as a precaution.

The storms also forced the closure of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries up to 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta province to the Pacific coast.

Directly to the south of British Columbia, in the US state of Washington, heavy rain forced evacuations and cut off electricity for more than 150,000 households on Monday.

The US National Weather Service on Tuesday issued a flash flood warning for Mount Vernon, Washington, "due to the potential for a levee failure".

Some areas of British Columbia received 20cm of rain on Sunday, the amount that usually falls in a month.

Authorities in Merritt, 200km northeast of Vancouver, ordered all 8000 residents to leave on Monday as river waters rose quickly, but some were still trapped in their homes on Tuesday, city spokesman Greg Lowis said.

Snow blanketed the town on Tuesday and some cars could be seen floating in flood waters up to 1.2m deep.

Rescuers equipped with diggers and body-sniffing dogs have started clearing mounds of debris that have choked highways.

The landslides and floods come less than six months after wildfires gutted an entire town in British Columbia as temperatures soared during a record-breaking heatwave, raising new worries about climate change.

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