Canada ice storm kills two, leaves millions without electricity

A fallen branch is seen on a car, a day after freezing rain and strong winds cut power to more than a million people in Canada's two most populated provinces, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada April 6, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

As a result of the ice storm that ravaged eastern Canada on Thursday, two people were killed, and approximately one million lost power due to fallen trees and power lines.

Quebec and Ontario, Canada's two most populous provinces, were devastated by the storm.

"Montreal is devastated," but the situation is "under control," Quebec Minister of Economy and Energy Pierre Fitzgibbon said at a press conference following the lifting of severe weather warnings.

Nonetheless, authorities urged caution, advising individuals to stay away from downed power lines and to avoid walking in icy-laden wooded areas.

On Wednesday, an Ontario resident was killed by a falling tree. On Thursday morning, a man in his 60s was killed by a branch he was attempting to cut in his yard, approximately 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Montréal.

On Thursday evening, nearly one million consumers were still powerless, most in Quebec, but some lines had been restored.

It was the most significant power outage in Quebec since a 1998 ice storm, which caused weeks of unrest in the province.

"It's a tough time for Montrealers and people throughout the region who have been affected by this ice storm," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in Montreal, stated.

The power disruptions were primarily caused by ice-laden tree limbs that snapped and damaged power lines. Thursday evening, road personnel were still clearing streets of debris.

Early in the afternoon, two major bridges in Montreal remained partially closed.

Wednesday night's storm transformed the city into a veritable ice garden by coating everything outdoors, including traffic lights, bicycles, vehicles, and fire escapes, with thick ice.

"This is the worst ice storm we've had in the past two decades," a retiree told AFP.

The 64-year-old resident of the city's central Plateau neighbourhood went outside Wednesday to inspect the electrical transformer that caught fire after a tree toppled on it.

A few yards away, labourers toiled with saws to clear roads of fallen trees.

"Cleaning up the entire city will take several weeks," said Samuel, a city employee who did not provide his last name.

While temperatures hovered near freezing, residents without electricity were sheltered in emergency centres.

Premier of Quebec Francois Legault said, "Unfortunately, we can anticipate that, as a result of climate change, events of this nature will increase in the coming years."

Publish : 2023-04-07 13:15:00

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