Up to 200 Canadian troops have been sent to the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador to help it dig out from a massive blizzard, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said.
The armed forces will also provide two transport planes and at least two helicopters. The record-breaking storm dumped up to 76cm (30 inches) of snow on St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland on Friday and packed wind gusts as high as 130 kilometres per hour (81 miles/h).
The new record snowfall was set at St John’s International Airport, beating the previous daily record of 68.4cm (27 inches) set in 1999. The records go back to 1942.
The resulting snowdrifts left many important roads totally impassable. Although a state of emergency remained in the town on Sunday, authorities said gas stations and pharmacies would be allowed to reopen within the coming hours.
”Probably by the end of today you’ll have about 150 to 200 personnel on the ground ready to provide support,” Sajjan said on the sidelines of a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Sunday.
The troops are a mix of reserves already in the province and soldiers arriving from elsewhere, he added.
The Canadian armed forces also provided two Hercules transport planes and two Griffon helicopters.
The snow clearing operations could be complicated by fresh snowfall.
Conditions could continue to be difficult since Environment Canada predicted an additional 10cm (4 inches) of snow overnight Sunday into Monday.