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Avalanches Kill Seven In British Columbia
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Avalanches Kill Seven In British Columbia



This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Cohen.


And I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, how to live frugally in a recession. The web offers a few suggestions.

COHEN: But first, a tragic turn in the story of eight Canadian snowmobilers trapped in an avalanche. Seven bodies have been recovered so far in British Columbia. Rescuers met this morning to decide whether to continue their search for the eighth man.

Joining us now from the town of Fernie, which is about 500 miles east of Vancouver, is Corporal Chris Faulkner. He's with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And Corporal Faulkner, what is the latest on the search for this last missing snowmobiler?

Corporal CHRIS FAULKNER (Royal Canadian Mounted Police): The search and rescue team were able to make their decision this morning that they believe the area will be safe enough and moved into today. Initially, they'll be doing a flyover by helicopter, and they'll set off a few depth charges to create small avalanches in the area to stabilize the slopes. After that, the rest of the search teams will be brought in, some by helicopter, others by snowmobile, and they'll continue to search in the area where the other seven bodies were recovered yesterday.

COHEN: The families of the victims had been gathered there in Fernie to wait for updates. What's the scene been like there?

Cpl. FAULKNER: Well, one can imagine the despair that all of the families will feel. The loss will be felt for a long time. The community that they're from, approximately 3,800 people. For all of these people, they were a family member, a neighbor, a relative, a co-worker, or perhaps somebody that they just knew from the street. So we have a whole community that's grieving at this time, and their grief will be felt for a long period of time.

COHEN: These men were missing on Sunday. It's now Tuesday. How much longer do you think you might continue to search for this last man?

Cpl. FAULKNER: Well, that will depend on the snow and weather conditions. Definitely the search and rescue team want to bring out the eighth body. But if the situation worsens, the last thing anybody would want is to have further casualties in that area. So, the matter is assessed by the search and rescue team probably on an hourly basis as they're in there.

COHEN: As I understand, there were several avalanche warnings issued prior to these men going out. Was it a wise decision for them to go out in those conditions? Do you feel they were adequately prepared?

Cpl. FAULKNER: My information was that the day prior to this was that the avalanche risk was deemed to be moderate. The problem with the area that we're in, in the Rocky Mountain trenches, the weather and snow conditions can change dramatically, you know, in a very short period of time. So overnight on Saturday into Sunday morning, that may well have been the case here. I don't know what information the snowmobilers actually had as they headed out. We may never know the answer, the complete answer to that.

COHEN: Corporal Chris Faulkner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, thank you and best of luck.

Cpl. FAULKNER: Yes, thank you.

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