CSAC Avalanche Incident

Kokanee Glacier, BC - January 2, 1998

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Official Reports

Media Reports

Bad weather halts avalanche search

Sunday January 4 6:57 PM EST

NELSON, British Columbia, Jan. 4 (UPI) Royal Canadian Mounted Police say bad weather has halted all search and rescue missions at avalanche sites in southeast British Columbia.

Avalanche conditions remain high.

An earlier avalanche Friday also took the life of a Medicine Hat, Alberta man who was snowmobiling near Sparwood, B.C. near the Alberta border.

Police have not released the names of the victims.

Canada avalanche tragedy worst in recent history

Reuters - 04:20 p.m Jan 04, 1998 Eastern

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 4 (Reuters) - A series of avalanches in the mountains of western Canada which killed at least eight people at the weekend were the most deadly in recent memory, officials said on Sunday.

Avalanches triggered by cold weather and new snowfall roared down three mountains in southeastern British Columbia, burying backcountry skiers and snowmobilers. One skier was still missing on Sunday.

"We've never seen this many recreational skiers killed by avalanches in a single day," Evan Manners of the Canadian Avalanche Centre in Revelstoke, British Columbia said on Sunday. "It's not the worst thing that's ever happened in Canada, but in recent history, it's the worst recreational tragedy we've seen."

The danger of more avalanches in the South Columbia Mountains region of the Canadian Rockies remained high, he said.

Another avalanche at Elliott Lake, British Columbia, close to Alberta and the Canada-U.S. border, buried four friends on snowmobiles on Friday, killing one of them.

The three survivors dug themselves out but were unable to rescue Murray Gray Perrin, 38, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, who was covered by about 10 feet (3 metres) of snow, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Steve Small said.

The eight confirmed deaths bring to 13 the number of people killed in avalanches in western Canada this winter.

An average of 10 people are killed each year in western Canadian avalanches, according to Canadian Avalanche Centre statistics.

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Comments = Canadian Press report-

KASLO, B.C. (CP) At least eight people died in three separate avalanches in southeastern British Columbia and an extreme avalanche warning was in effect throughout the Kootenays. Five skiers and three snowmobilers were reported dead Saturday and one skier was still missing.

And in the third disaster, Murray Gray Perrin of Medicine Hat, Alta., was killed by an avalanche while snowmobiling outside of Sparwood at Elliott Lake where the B.C., Alberta and U.S. borders converge.

Sparwood RCMP Const. Steve Small said Perrin, 38, was one of five people snowmobiling when the avalanche struck at about 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Four of the snowmobilers were swept up in the avalanche. Two were only partly buried. A third, wearing a hand-held locator, was found alive, buried under a metre of snow, Small said. Perrin, who may have lost his locator in the fall, was found dead under his snowmobile in three metres of snow.

"They weren't acting irresponsibly. They were dressed for the conditions. All the machines were in good operating conditions."

Depending on conditions, an attempt will likely be made to fly into the Woodbury Glacier area by helicopter today to continue that search, Salem said. "Our priority is for the safety of the persons going in," Salem said from his Kamloops office on Saturday. "I can't say for sure we will go in there tomorrow (Sunday). It depends on the weather and the conditions."

The Canadian Avalanche Association had issued an extreme avalanche warning for the area and Salem said slides were happening throughout the Kootenay region in southeastern B.C. all weekend.

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