Floods in Canada's oil capital Calgary force 75,000 to flee homes

CALGARY, Alberta, June 21 Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:08pm BST

CALGARY, Alberta, June 21 (Reuters) - Flooding shut down much of the centre of Calgary, Canada's oil capital, on Friday, and forced tens of thousands of residents to leave their soggy homes.

Heavy rain also closed roads and brought down bridges elsewhere in the province of Alberta, but there were no reports of death or injuries. A pipeline carrying deadly sour natural gas ruptured in Turner Valley on Thursday.

More than 75,000 people, about 7 percent of Calgary's 1.1 million residents, were ordered to evacuate their homes and take shelter with friends and relatives or in leisure centres.

City authorities urged people to stay at home and avoid travel on Friday, with schools across the city closed.

"Getting downtown today is going to be very, very difficult; there are bridges and underpasses that are impassable. I am really telling people to stay at home with the family, avoid all non-essential travel and we will continue to do our work here," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Fast-growing Calgary, located on the Bow River, is the largest city in Alberta. It is some 750 km (466 miles) from the province's main energy producing areas, which have not been affected by the latest flooding.

The city's commuter train and many bus services were not running and many offices in the downtown core remained closed, with lights off and few people on the streets.

As many as 100 police officers from other regions have been drafted in to help maintain order, local media said.

More 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) of rain fell in some areas of Southern Alberta over the past two days, the Weather Network said on Friday, with precipitation expected to continue until Saturday. (Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Bernadette Baum)