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Ice storm in Canada leaves two dead, over a million without electricity

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor Valerie Plante look at the damage after yesterday’s ice storm, which left over a million customers without power, in Montreal, Thursday, April 6, 2023. (The Canadian Press)

An ice storm in eastern Canada has left at least two people dead and more than a million others without electricity, affecting the country’s two most-populated provinces, Quebec and Ontario, ahead of a holiday weekend.

The freezing rainstorm that went off early Wednesday made tree limbs laden with heavy ice, which snapped and fell over power lines that further led to around 1.3 million people plunging into darkness, according to reports.

Data from revealed that around a million people in Quebec had no access to electricity, while around 367,000 outages were reported in Montreal alone, marking the largest power outage in the two provinces in years.

Electricity providers in the two provinces - which account for more than half of Canada’s total population of about 39 million - were working to restore power, but repairs were expected to continue for days, reports said early on Friday.

A person lost his life after a tree fell over him, according to Quebec Premier Francois Legault, while in Ontario; a resident in his 60s was killed after he got crushed by a branch that he was trying to cut in his yard.

"It's a very difficult moment ... the power being down for so many folks, the trees coming down, hurting buildings and cars and whatnot is of course an ongoing concern," Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was quoted as saying by Reuters in his district on Thursday.

"Seeing all these beautiful trees down, seeing lives disrupted, seeing similar challenges...(it) will be a difficult Easter weekend for a number of families," he said.

"Montreal is devastated," but the situation is "under control," Quebec minister of economy and energy Pierre Fitzgibbon told reporters on Thursday.

Some areas in the national capital "remain hazardous due to fallen debris and power outages affecting traffic signals," Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe said.

Quebec’s main electricity provider, Hydro-Quebec, in a statement said it was expected that electricity to 70 to 80 percent of households will be restored by Friday night, while some customers may need to spend their weekend in the dark.

"Unfortunately, it is the start of a long weekend and certain areas are more complex that we will not be able to reconnect immediately," said Regis Tellier, Hydro-Quebec's vice president of operations and maintenance.

Climate change is being blamed as a key reason for the unexpected harsh weather condition that has put the lives of millions at risk.

"Of the last 20 years, this is the worst ice storm we've had," a Montreal resident who lives in the central Plateau district of the city told the AFP. 

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