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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mudslide kills woman, crushes homes

A house sits on the edge of a mudslide in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. – A rain-fed mudslide swept down a hillside early Wednesday, killing one woman and injuring her husband as it smashed through two houses.

Dozens of homes were evacuated after the slide in the suburb across Vancouver Harbor from Vancouver.

The slide sent a torrent of mud through one of the houses, flooding through the master bedroom and floating the residents’ bed across their room about 3:30 a.m., said one of the neighbors.

Search crews found the dead woman’s body Wednesday afternoon. Her husband was found in the debris downhill from the wreckage and was hospitalized with serious injuries, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Tom Seaman said. Neither was immediately identified.

Occupants of the second home suffered only minor injuries.

Premier Gordon Campbell toured the area later in the day.

“You just can’t imagine what it must be like for someone to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and be swept off or swept out of their home,” he said.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman said it could take as long as four days for experts to assess whether it is safe to return. Residents were being housed in local hotels at government expense.

Adrian Thomson, whose home was about 50 yards downhill from the wrecked houses, ushered a young couple with a baby into his house so they could receive medical attention. They lived in the second home hit by the mud. “The mud came in through their master bedroom and picked up their bed and sort of surfed it across their room to the other side,” said Thomson. “It sounds like they just went through something pretty horrific.”

Rescue crews were at the site quickly but darkness and the pelting rain hampered their efforts.

Daylight revealed that the slide had carved a ravine through the heavily treed neighborhood of large family homes.

Janice Harris, mayor of the district of North Vancouver, said the area has a history of landslides.

Heavy rains have pounded British Columbia’s south coast for several days, and heavy snow and freezing rain made travel difficult in the province’s interior.