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Halifax-based frigate on standby for potential hurricane Irma relief

HMCS St. John's returns to Halifax in a sea of fog on July 17, 2017. Dave Squires/Global News

The Canadian Armed Forces has ordered a Halifax-based warship to be at the ready as the military plans for a potential response to Hurricane Irma – the most potent Atlantic hurricane ever.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees on a track Thursday that could lead to a catastrophic strike on Florida.

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The Canadian military says it is “conducting prudent military planning and preparations to be in position to support any potential relief efforts” if Ottawa orders a response.

It says the frigate HMCS St. John’s, which returned to Halifax six weeks ago after a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, has been identified to support any relief efforts.

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The Canadian Red Cross says it has a presence in the area and is co-ordinating a response with other Red Cross teams.

Conrad Sauve, CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, says Irma is expected to leave hundreds of thousands of people in need of shelter, food, water and other assistance.