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Saturday, January 10, 1998 Published at 13:57 GMT



World: Americas

Canada 'a test for Armageddon'
image: [ Montreal freezes with thousands forced into public shelters ]
Montreal freezes with thousands forced into public shelters

Canadian troops have been brought in to help the clear-up operation following the country's worst ice storms on record.

Ten people have died, thousands have been forced into public shelters and air and rail routes were severely disrupted as the storm swept through eastern Canada.


[ image: Traffic builds up as Montreal commuters struggle home]
Traffic builds up as Montreal commuters struggle home
The three latest victims all died in Montreal - the worst-hit area.

They were an elderly couple killed in a house fire and a 90-year-old woman who died from hypothermia after refusing to leave her unheated home.

Radio stations abandoned their regular broadcasts to provide rolling storm reports with calls from residents passing on survival advice.

At the Corner Snack Bar, Montreal, co-owner Lee Thomas said: "It's like a test for Armageddon: You can't drive anywhere, you have no power.


[ image: Soldiers move in to help the clear-up operation]
Soldiers move in to help the clear-up operation
"All your major services are down. Slowly, but surely, everything starts to break."

The ice storms have spread from Ottawa and Ontario into New Brunswick and north-eastern America. But weathermen are predicting the worst is now past.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada expects damage claims to total at least $350m (Can.), which would make it the country's most expensive ever natural disaster.

Montreal and Ottawa airports were closed on Friday and rail services were stopped between Toronto and Quebec City.


[ image: Shocked residents find respite from the cold in public shleters]
Shocked residents find respite from the cold in public shleters
The electricity company supplying Montreal hopes it can restore power to the city by the end of the weekend.

Three thousand Canadian troops have been brought in to help relief efforts.

In Quebec, nearly 3 million people - 40% of the population - were without power.

In eastern Ontario, officials said more than 100,000 homes and businesses had lost electricity, and more than 20,000 homes were powerless in the Maritimes.

In Montreal people huddled together in shelters at community centres and schools with generators.

Dave Phillips, a Federal Government Climatologist, said: "Like the rest of the world, we're beginning to see in Canada that El Nino has a miserable side."

American fears


[ image: Sonja Watson cuts firewood from branches brought down in the ice storms]
Sonja Watson cuts firewood from branches brought down in the ice storms
Across the border in New York state around 150,000 people are affected.

Red Cross spokesman Jerry Gonyea fears another bout of freezing weather.

He said: "It is getting warmer and we are getting some melting.

"It appears to be getting a bit warmer for the next day but after that it will get quite a bit colder."

Tokyo snow

Japan's worst snowfall for nearly two years has brought chaos to Tokyo.

Almost 30cm of snow fell, paralysing commuter services and rail routes and delaying flights.

Municipal workers are mounting a clean up operation.
 





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