OTTAWA (Reuters) – Two people died and more than a million were without power on Thursday after a snowstorm lashed Canada’s two most populous provinces ahead of the weekend, bringing freezing rain and strong winds that toppled and weighed down trees. power lines.
Just under 1 million people had no electricity in Quebec and about 110,000 in Ontario as of 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), according to Poweroutage.com. The combined outages in the two provinces exceeded at least 1.3 million earlier in the day.
The two provinces account for more than half of Canada’s total population of about 39 million.
Electricity providers in both provinces were working to restore power, but repairs were expected to take several days, meaning many Canadians could spend the Easter weekend in the dark.
A man was killed in Quebec when a tree fell on him, Prime Minister Francois Legault told a news briefing, and warned people to beware of live wires and vulnerable trees. CTV News reported that another man died in eastern Ontario when he was struck by a fallen branch.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected to Parliament in a Montreal constituency, has offered to provide federal assistance if needed.
Trudeau told reporters on a street in his area as crews were cleaning up a fallen tree behind him.
Montreal is among the hardest hit in Quebec, accounting for about half of the largely French-speaking province’s total outages.
“Seeing all these beautiful trees down, seeing lives disrupted, seeing similar challenges … (It’s) going to be a difficult Easter weekend for a number of families,” Trudeau said.
Hydro-Quebec was hoping to restore power to about 70% of customers by midnight Friday, an executive at the facility said in a televised briefing.
“Unfortunately, it’s the start of a long weekend and some areas are more complex and we won’t be able to reconnect right away,” said Regis Tellier, Vice President of Operations and Maintenance for Hydro-Quebec.
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said electric crews in the city of Ottawa are expected to restore power to a large portion of the roughly 65,000 affected customers by noon.
Some areas of the national capital “remain dangerous with falling debris and power outages affecting traffic lights,” Sutcliffe said.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil). Editing by Mark Heinrichs, Susan Fenton, Deepa Babbington, and Richard Chang
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