JOHNSONS LANDING, British Columbia (AP) — Four people were believed to be missing Friday after a wall of rock, mud and trees cascaded down the side of a mountain, flattening several homes in a tiny western Canada community.
Unstable conditions temporarily forced the search efforts to be called off Friday, said Central Kootenay Regional District spokesman Bill McPherson.
Debris was still falling into the area and the search would continue once the movement stops, McPherson said. Unstable conditions also forced the crews to suspend search efforts Thursday.
Lynn Migdal said she hoped her two daughters, aged 17 and 22, and ex-husband were still alive after debris engulfed their home in British Columbia on Thursday.
"There are three people buried alive right now, hopefully alive, deep down in one of my houses that got torn apart and twisted on its side," Migdal said, describing the home, located about 70 kilometres (43 miles) northeast of Nelson, British Columbia.
A German tourist is also believed to be missing.
The landslide struck Thursday morning above the shores of Kootenay Lake, tearing through the tiny community of Johnsons Landing.
Migdal, speaking from Florida, appealed for quicker action.
"It's very frustrating," she said. "It's just happening so slow. Yesterday, I understand, they were waiting for it to settle, but they said as soon as it was sunlight that they would try to start digging my family out."
She said one of her daughters spoke to a friend before the avalanche struck, saying her sister and father were about to have breakfast, leading Midal to believe they were in the kitchen at the time.
Officials said at least three homes were crushed by the unstable, shifting muck.
Retired doctor Roland Procter said he was reading on his garden deck, only 500 meters (1640 feet) away as a massive torrent of mud gushed down, sweeping up large trees and snapping them like toothpicks as the muck engulfed half of his tiny village.
"It was a prolonged 20 to 30-second rumbling that was unlike any rumbling I've ever heard," he said.
"I realized right away there was only one thing it could be."
A state of emergency was declared for the area and several residents were evacuated Thursday to the community of Kaslo, across the lake from the slide.