Police recover 2 more bodies from St. Lawrence River near Ontario-Quebec border
Eight people are dead after they tried on Thursday to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States near Akwesasne — a community which straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state — according to officials. One other person is still missing.
Police recovered two more bodies from the river Friday, after discovering six bodies and an overturned boat during a missing person search Thursday afternoon.
The bodies are those of six adults and two children: one under the age of three who had a Canadian passport, the other an infant who was also a Canadian citizen, according to Shawn Dulude, the police chief for the nearby Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Dulude spoke to reporters at a Friday news conference.
They were found in a marsh on the riverbank.
They are believed to have been an Indian family and a Romanian family who were attempting to cross into the U.S., according to police.
Casey Oakes, 30, an Akwesasne resident, remains missing, police said. Oakes was last seen on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. ET boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island. He was dressed in black, wearing a black face mask and a black tuque.
He was later reported missing, leading to the search efforts that found the bodies. Oakes is a person of interest in the case, said Dulude.
Police located Oakes’s vessel near the bodies, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk police service, said on Friday morning. Akwesasne is about 120 kilometres west of Montreal.
The IDs of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their next of kin.
A storm brought high winds and sleet into the area on Wednesday night. “It was not a good time to be out on the water,” O’Brien said.
“It could have been anything that caused this tragedy,” he said. “It could have been a faulty boat, it could have been human error and that the investigation will determine.”
Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday after Oakes’s family reported him missing. Another dozen or so volunteers from other stations in the community joined the effort.
The firefighters recovered the boat, its hull dented on the bottom as if it had hit ice or a rock, Lazore said.
He and O’Brien said the boat was small, and wouldn’t have been able to safely carry seven or eight people.
“What that boat could handle and the amount of people in it, it doesn’t make a pretty picture,” Lazore said, standing by the fire department dock on the water.
Friday morning, the water was calm and mirror-like. “It can change in the blink of an eye,” Lazore said, noting waves were more than a metre high Wednesday night.
“The river is always the major concern…. Our elders tell us, always be careful, especially in the spring, with the runoff, the current is stronger and the water is freezing.”
Other attempted crossings
The volunteer firefighters were only searching for one person when they discovered the first six bodies.
“It’s hitting them now,” Lazore said, adding they had begun a debrief Thursday evening to process what they had seen, but were interrupted by a call for a structure fire.
Thursday wasn’t the first time Lazore’s team has been called on to search for missing people who have tried to cross the border.
He said they rescue people attempting to enter the U.S. or Canada over the river and its tributaries about three or four times a year.
“It gets hard. It wears the guys down.”
Almost exactly a year ago, they rescued a group of six Indian nationals who had just made it into the United States on the river when the boat they were in hit a shallow bank and got stuck.
They were able to stand up in the boat and were rescued by the volunteers and Akwasasne Police Department — which received $6.5 million from the Quebec government last year to help it deal with the increased flow of human smuggling in the area.
“They were lucky. It could have been a lot worse,” Lazore said.
The fire station is next to a recreation centre where community members gathered Friday afternoon. They sit across a road from the Tsi’Snaihne River.
A police helicopter circled above.
Next to the fire station, a group of men lit a sacred fire early that morning and kept it going throughout the day. Lazore said the fire was to honour the families and Oakes.
Smuggling on the rise
O’Brien, the deputy police chief, said the community has seen an uptick in human smuggling into the U.S. There have been 48 incidents so far this year, she said.
But the recent deaths had nothing to do with the closure of the Roxham Road illegal border crossing, she added.
“That closure was people seeking refuge, leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”
Most of those who try to enter the U.S. through the area are Indian and Romanian families, she said, but she said she “had no idea” why that was the case.
Ryan Brissette, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, says the agency had seen a “massive uptick in encounters and apprehensions” at the border.
The agency saw more than eight times as many people try to cross from Canada into the U.S. in 2022 compared to previous years, he said. Many of them — more than 64,000 — came through Quebec or Ontario into New York.
“Comparing this area in the past, this is a significant number,” Brissette said.
“There’s a lot of different reasons as to why this is happening, why folks are coming all of a sudden through the northern border. I think a lot of them think it’s easier, an easy opportunity and they just don’t know the danger that it poses, especially in the winter months.”
Charge laid after multi-vehicle collision caused by geese crossing E.C. Row expressway – CBC.ca
Windsor police say a driver is facing a careless driving charge after stopping on the E.C. Row Expressway to let a family of geese cross the road.
This led to a collision involving a pickup truck and a transport truck, according to Staff Sgt. Rob Wilson.
“It sounds like a vehicle had stopped for a baby goose crossing the E.C. Row [Expressway],” he said.
“Another vehicle stopped and the transport truck collided with a portion of the pickup truck, causing it to veer off the ditch and roll over onto its side.”
Wilson said the transport truck driver was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Driver describes geese crossing
Dale Cormier was driving eastbound toward Tecumseh when he spotted the geese starting to cross one of Windsor’s busiest roadways.
“Oh my God, I just missed them,” said Cormier, recalling three or four adult geese and nearly a dozen goslings by their side.
“It was just a little family of them.”
E.C. Row Expressway Eastbound around Howard Ave. is currently reduced to one lane, expected to cause some traffic delays.<br><br>This lane reduction is expected to last most of the day today, due to a motor vehicle accident involving a transport truck. <a href=”https://t.co/84mbCVpMZC”>pic.twitter.com/84mbCVpMZC</a>
Cormier said once he passed the geese he noticed other drivers trying to avoid them in his rearview mirror.
“Lucky for me, I had enough time … I just saw the cars swerving behind me,” he said.
He doesn’t think any of the geese were injured. He called police as soon as it was safe to do so.
“They didn’t believe me at first.”
Cormier said that there wasn’t likely anything a driver could have done to avoid hitting the geese, but said people should be more cautious while driving.
He said drivers were traveling at high speeds and bumper to bumper.
Police expect the eastbound lanes to be reduced for most of the day as they remove the transport truck.
Driving instructor provides advice
If drivers face a similar situation, they should make sure nobody is behind them before stopping, says Tristan Wallen, an instructor at Delta Driving School.
“Don’t stop in the middle of the road,” he said. “You want to get off the road, especially on a [fast]-moving road.”
Wallen says instructors teach their students that “a human life is worth a lot more than an animal.”
“You don’t want to cause someone else to get injured because you were trying to save some a goose or a squirrel or whatever it was crossing the street,” he continued.
The Ministry of Transportation’s Driver’s Handbook says in instances when animals are on the road, drivers should slow down and try to pass carefully “as they may suddenly bolt onto the road.”
Halifax-area wildfire 85% contained and not expected to spread, officials say – CBC.ca
If the power or data on your device is low, get your wildfire updates on CBC Lite. It’s our low-bandwidth, text-only website.
A wildfire burning northwest of Halifax is now 85 per cent contained, as Nova Scotia is getting much-needed rain Saturday.
Dave Steeves, a technician of forest resources with the Department of Natural Resources, said the fire hasn’t grown and is still about 950 hectares in size.
“We have changed from ‘out of control’ to a state of being held,” Steeves said during a media briefing early Saturday.
He said that means the fire is not likely to spread.
“The rain that we are getting now is going to help the suppression issues, but that being said this fire is not out and it will not be declared out for some time.”
He said any additional resources will be heading down to Shelburne County, where a massive wildfire is burning.
Some residents who had been evacuated from the area were allowed to return home on Friday, including those on Lucasville Road, St. George Boulevard and in the Stillwater Lake area.
Another livestreamed briefing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.
The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency Sunday night in order to access additional support.
Late Friday, the municipality said some resources were no longer required.
The comfort centre at the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre has closed, and the Canada Games Centre has transitioned from a 24-hour evacuation centre to a comfort centre.
Comfort centres remain open at:
- Canada Games Centre | 26 Thomas Raddall Drive will operate as a comfort centre from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 3.
- Black Point and Area Community Centre | 8579 St. Margarets Bay Road will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 3.
According to a release, Nova Scotia Health’s mobility primary care clinic is hosting a drop-in clinic at the Canada Games Centre on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Major insurance companies will be available to speak with affected residents on Saturday at the Canada Games Centre. Future opportunities to speak with representatives will be available in the coming days.
Hundreds killed after passenger trains derail in India, officials say
At least 233 people were killed and 900 were injured when two passenger trains collided in India’s Odisha state, a government official said on Saturday, making the rail accident the country’s deadliest in more than a decade.
The death toll from Friday’s crash is expected to increase, state Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said in a tweet.
He said over 200 ambulances had been called to the scene of the accident in Odisha’s Balasore district and 100 additional doctors, on top of 80 already there, had been mobilized.
Early on Saturday morning, Reuters video footage showed police officials moving bodies covered in white cloths off the railway tracks.
Footage from Friday showed rescuers climbing up the mangled wreck of one of the trains to find survivors, while passengers called for help and sobbed next to the wreckage.
2 express trains collided
The collision occurred at about 7 p.m. local time on Friday when the Howrah Superfast Express, running from Bangalore to Howrah, West Bengal, collided with the Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai.
Authorities have provided conflicting accounts on which train derailed first to become entangled with the other. The Ministry of Railways said it has initiated an investigation into the crash.
Although Chief Secretary Jena and some media reports have suggested a freight train was also involved in the crash, railway authorities have yet to comment on that possibility.
An extensive search-and-rescue operation has been mounted, involving hundreds of fire department personnel and police officers as well as sniffer dogs. National Disaster Response Force teams were also at the site.
On Friday, hundreds of young people lined up outside a government hospital in Odisha’s Soro to donate blood.
According to Indian Railways, its network facilitates the transportation of more than 13 million people every day. But the state-run monopoly has had a patchy safety record because of aging infrastructure.
Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared a day of state mourning on June 3 as a mark of respect to the victims.
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