Johnsons Landing Search To Resume Sunday
The search for four people believed to be buried under up to 15 feet of debris at Johnsons Landing will resume Sunday morning. This after the painstaking efforts intensified late Saturday afternoon.
The landslide rescue operation expanded to 70 emergency personnel Saturday including the Heavy Urban Search team from Vancouver, multiple local SAR teams and RCMP. Three police dogs are in service.
Other nearby creeks were also inspected amidst concerns about their stability following a record wet start to summer.
Search efforts resumed Saturday after delays caused by a heavy storm Friday night and into the morning made the already unstable ground even more dangerous. Spotters are in place above the disaster zone incase there is any fresh movement.
At least three homes were destroyed when a wall of rock, mud and trees swept down the mountainside Thursday morning. The focus of the efforts was initially centred on two residences and late Friday the Regional District of Central Kootenay says searchers had been able to inspect the torn-away upper level of a home in which a man and his two daughters - Valentine, Diana and Rachel Webber- were thought to be.
The next task has been to try to access the basement level, which is some distance away in its original location. The fourth missing person- neighbour and German national Petra Freshe- is now also thought to be with the other three in the same property.
While RCMP suggested Friday the search effort was likely a recovery mission other rescuers on the ground are keeping up hopes that survival may be possible if they are holed up in the stronger basement.
The RDCK says Vancouver’s Heavy Urban Search team has three squads on the ground and a “grid-style” search is ongoing in which sectors are mapped out allowing teams to inspect certain areas and then eliminate them from the overall quest.
In an already unstable disaster zone Friday night’s thunderstorm downed more trees and power lines. Access to the site is by boat or helicopter only as the main road was washed away by the original slide.
On Friday a TV crew working in the edge of the slide had to scramble for their boats after a new slide was triggered. The RDCK has warned boaters and hikers to stay well clear of the area.
In another development the Ministry of Lands and Forests has confirmed they received an e-mail about strange ground movement on the mountainside the morning of the disaster. However that e-mail was opened about 30 minutes after the devastating event.
Argenta and Bulmer creeks were flown by a geo-technical team Saturday following concerns expressed by residents. The RDCK says both are running clear with minimal debris build up observed in Bulmer Creek.