By Jake Carpenter, CNN
(CNN) – Authorities will meet early Friday to decide how to proceed with the search of a landslide in a mountainous remote area of British Columbia, looking for anyone who might be trapped in the debris, emergency officials said.
Four people are unaccounted for after three homes were destroyed and several others were damaged, said Bill Macpherson of the Regional District of Central Kootenay Emergency Operations Center.
The landslide happened in Johnsons Landing in the Kootenays, just before midday Thursday. Two search and rescue teams and multiple Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were on the scene, along with geotechnical workers and a landslide expert, Macpherson said.
A state of local emergency has been declared, according to Macpherson. “It’s a very small community, quite isolated,” he said.
Search and rescue crews were having difficulties because of poor cell phone reception, Macpherson said, adding that crews were sending him updates via satellite phone.
The steep slopes and mountainous terrain are home to a few permanent residents and various summer residents, he said.
The area has received a record amount of rain during the last month, but it is too early to definitively say that was a factor, Macpherson said. Geotechnical staff are trying to determine the landslide’s cause.
The operation was briefly suspended Thursday afternoon because of instability above the search area. Geotechnical staff later determined it was safe enough for a limited number of personnel to continue, Macpherson said.