OTTAWA, April 6 (Reuters) – Two people died and more than a million people were without power on Thursday as a blizzard battered two of Canada’s most populous provinces ahead of the holiday weekend, bringing freezing rain and strong winds that toppled trees. Electrical wires.
According to Poweroutage.com, fewer than a million people were without power in Quebec and about 110,000 in Ontario as of 4 p.m. The combined outages for both provinces crossed at least 1.3 million earlier in the day.
These two provinces make up more than half of Canada’s total population of about 39 million.
Electricity providers in both provinces are working to restore power, but repairs are expected to continue for several days, meaning many Canadians could spend the Easter weekend in the dark.
One person was killed when a tree fell in Quebec, Premier Francois Legault told a conference, warning people to watch out for live wires and weakened trees. Another man died after being hit by a falling branch in eastern Ontario, broadcaster CTV News reported.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected to Parliament in the Montreal constituency, offered to provide help from the central government if needed.
“It’s a very difficult time … for a lot of people with power outages, trees down, damaging buildings and cars and whatever, it’s an ongoing concern,” Trudeau told reporters on the street in his district. A fallen tree behind him.
Among the worst-hit areas in Quebec was Montreal, which accounted for half of all outages in the mostly French-speaking province.
“Seeing all these beautiful trees down, seeing lives being disrupted, seeing similar challenges … (it’s) going to be a tough Easter weekend for a lot of families,” Trudeau said.
Hydro-Québec hopes to restore power to about 70% of customers by midnight Friday, the utility’s executive told a televised conference call.
“Unfortunately, it’s the start of a long weekend and some areas are so critical that we won’t be able to reconnect right away,” said Regis Delier, Hydro-Québec’s vice-president of operations and maintenance.
In the city of Ottawa, power will be restored to most of the roughly 65,000 affected customers by noon, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said.
Sutcliffe said parts of the national capital were “dangerous due to falling debris and power outages affecting traffic signals”.
Reported by Ismail Shakil; Editing: Mark Heinrich, Susan Fenton, Deepa Babington and Richard Chang
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