The bodies of three men have now been recovered at the site of the Duffey Lake Road mudslide, say RCMP.
Over the last five days, a small team of forensic coroners has worked alongside law enforcement and search and rescue professionals to try to locate people reported missing in the aftermath of a mudslide near Duffey Lake a BC Coroners Service release states. One person was found dead on Monday, Nov. 15. On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the team recovered another deceased individual, and two additional decedents were recovered on Nov. 18.
Lisa Lapointe, B.C.'s chief coroner, acknowledged the dedication and teamwork demonstrated by each group involved in the recovery efforts.
“I also extend my heartfelt condolences to the families who are now grieving the sudden and unexpected death of their loved one, and to the family of the missing person we have so far been unable to locate," Lapointe said.
Efforts to locate the fifth man, which included a police service dog, continued into the morning of Nov. 19 but those attempts were unsuccessful due to weather and site conditions, said Sgt. Janelle Shoihet in an RCMP release.
"Our thoughts continue to be with all of those who have been impacted in this terrible tragedy," Shoihet said.
The tragedy came amid heavy rains that swept through southwest B.C. over the weekend, causing severe flooding and extensive damage throughout the province. The entire city of Merritt was placed under evacuation order, while a series of mudslides, rockslides and washouts closed all highways leading out of the Lower Mainland in both directions.
Pemberton was pummelled by 50.9 millimetres of rain Monday, adding to the 39.5 mm that fell on Sunday. Lillooet, meanwhile, saw 27.8 mm of rainfall on Sunday before receiving a further 33.8 mm on Monday, making it the rainiest Nov. 14 and 15 on record.
Update: On Nov. 20, Highway 99 was opened in both directions. Travel advisory in effect between Lil'wat Place and Seton Lake Road for 81.9 kilometres (9 km north of Pemberton to Lillooet). Open for essential travel only, defined in the Travel Restrictions Order through the Emergency Program Act. Checkpoints will be in place and travel restrictions will be enforced. Only vehicles up to 14,500 kg will be permitted.