March 15, 2010 / 1:46 AM / in 8 years

Rescue search ends after deadly Canadian avalanche

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Two people were killed and 30 hurt by an avalanche near Revelstoke, British Columbia, but others feared buried when the slide hit a snowmobile rally have been found safe, police said on Sunday.

As many as 200 people were watching or taking part in the event on Boulder Mountain on Saturday when the snowmobiles triggered the slide and sent a wall of snow crashing down on the onlookers, witnesses and police said.

A search for survivors ended late on Sunday when police were able to locate everyone associated with the rally, by finding the owners of cars left near the accident scene and canvassing hotels for any missing tourists.

Search dogs able to find bodies will double-check the mountain again on Monday, said a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Witnesses told local media the slide started when several snowmobiles raced high up the slope during the privately run rally, which was held despite warnings of a high avalanche risk in the area.

The survivors described a chaotic scene of snowmobilers scrambling down the mountain to outrun the avalanche, or driving into the forest in hopes that the trees would protect them from the wall of snow.

Many of the snowmobilers who escaped the snow were carrying avalanche-survival gear that allowed them to quickly rescue those who were buried.

Revelstoke is located about 195 miles west of Calgary, Alberta, in an area of western Canada popular for backcountry recreation such as snowmobiling and skiing.

Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Paul Simao and Chris Wilson

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