TORONTO – The death toll from a powerful thunderstorm in Canada’s two most populous provinces this weekend has risen to at least eight, authorities said Sunday, as emergency crews continued extensive sweeps to restore power to half a million people.
The storm, which lasted more than two hours on Saturday afternoon and packed the strength of a tornado, left a trail of destruction in parts of Ontario and Quebec. Wind gusts of up to 132 km (62 miles) per hour have uprooted trees, uprooted electrical poles and destroyed many metal transmission towers, utility companies said.
Electricity companies rushed to restore the transmission line on Sunday. Authorities said most of the dead were people who fell when trees fell due to the storm.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the federal government is ready to help if needed. Trudeau tweeted on Sunday, “We think of everyone who suffered, and thank those who are working to restore energy.”
Hydro One, Ontario’s largest power distribution company, said in a tweet on Sunday that crews were responding to significant losses. Environment Canada Mobile has issued a thunderstorm warning.
The Hydro One crew has restored power to more than 360,000 customers, leaving more than 226,000 customers without power, the company said in a statement late Sunday.
Recovery efforts are likely to continue for several days before all customers have had their electricity restored, the company said. (Reporting by Danny Thomas; Additional report by Anirudh Saligrama in Bangalore; Editing by Paul Simao and Christopher Cushing)