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442 Squadron rescues more than 300 people from Agassiz landslide

The Comox Valley’s 442 Squadron at 19 Wing Comox swooped in, rescuing hundreds trapped by a landslide this week.

Around 311 people along with 26 dogs and one cat were rescued by by the team near Agazzis Monday, according to a Facebook post from the Canadian Armed Forces.

19 Wing public affairs officer Capt. Brad Little said the effort needed to be made quickly and involved the configuration of three CH149 Cormorant helicopters to facilitate the effort.

“The helicopter is routinely configured with a stretcher and other medical equipment because the typical rescue is a medical evacuation,” said Little.

“Our first helicopters responded in that configuration, but we were able to radio back and reconfigure the third helicopter before it took off to remove much of the medical equipment, which allowed us to seat far more people.”

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Little added that many of the evacuees were families with personal belongings. He said the bigger concern was for other landslides that could have been triggered.

“The concern was that while people appeared to be safe on that roadway, they were potentially unsafe,” he said. “The landslides blocking them in front and behind could have easily triggered another, causing carnage.”

Little said it took all levels of government and civilian organizations to come together and perform the rescue.

The rescue is one of many after an atmospheric river ripped through B.C.’s south coast and interior causing floods, washouts and landslides.

Many highways including Highway 99, Highway 5, Highway 1 and the Malahat Highway are either closed or under repairs after the rain storm.

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