Flooding, mudslide claims 4 victims in Canada's British Columbia province

‘Atmospheric river' claims thousands of livestock.

Flooding, mudslide claims 4 victims in Canada's British Columbia province

Searchers in Canada recovered three bodies from a mudslide in the west coast province of British Columbia (B.C.), officials said Saturday.

It brings to four, one woman and three men, who were killed in what officials are calling once-in-a-century flooding when 12 inches of rain fell in two days last weekend on the lower half of the province, creating mudslides, extensive flooding, closing roads and forcing thousands to evacuate.

The province's chief coroner said another man was missing but searchers were unsuccessful in locating him due to the extreme damage caused by the “atmospheric river” -- water vapor carried in from the Pacific Ocean -- that trapped thousands and led to air rescues for those caught on a highway between a swollen river and a giant mudslide. The military was called in to help in the evacuation of entire communities.

Thousands of farm animals died in the flooding as residents had to abandon their livestock and evacuate as floodwaters covered large swathes of land and in some cases swept away houses and barns.

The catastrophe follows another one this past summer when a “heat dome” hung over the province, leading to record high temperatures that killed close to 600 people.

"This has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us in B.C., and my heart goes out to the many families and communities who have suffered tragic losses," coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement. "At the BC Coroners Service, we will continue to do our best to determine the facts of these tragedies for the public record and, where possible, make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future."

The lower mainland was cut off from the rest of Canada as roads were washed out along with rail lines and bridges.

Truckers were stranded and the supply chain was cut and those who could get to grocery stores emptied shelves as officials tried to convince people not to hoard.

Travel restrictions and gas rationing were instituted. To date, no one has put a dollar figure on the cost of losses and the massive cleanup that will follow.

Hüseyin Demir