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1972 landslide survivor dies in Vancouver slide



Published: Sat, January 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Eliza Kuttner miraculously escaped death in a catastrophic landslide in Hong Kong 33 years ago. An 11-year old child, she was pulled out of the rubble that claimed the lives of dozens.

But in a slide this week in North Vancouver, she did not survive. On the day after her body was found under debris, friends, neighbors and colleagues spoke of what they would remember: a highly spiritual person, a loving mother, a passionate teacher and a great friend.

Her husband Michael remained in hospital with multiple fractures and trauma. Their 14-year old daughter, Amita, who was in school in California at the time of the slide, was to return to Vancouver to be with the family.

The landslide occurred early Wednesday morning. After days of incessant rain, the mountainside broke away and slid down the slope. The pile of mud and trees slammed into the Kuttners' single-family home, carrying it farther down the slope.

Their home was demolished. Two other houses were damaged.

Jonathan Fannin, a geotechnical specialist at the University of British Columbia, said the incident was "strikingly similar" to the devastating slide after heavy rain in Hong Kong in June of 1972, called the Po Shan Road landslide.

Boulders in silty clay and sand slammed into a 13-story building. The structure broke at its foundation. The lower floors collapsed and the upper floors fell on to an adjoining building, like a man kneeling then falling forward, a witness said. The slide killed 67 people.

Kuttner left her Hong Kong birthplace and came to Canada with her family shortly after the slide. She attended junior high school in Vancouver. A friend recalled her saying it was difficult at first, but she adapted and went on to excel.




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