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Military plane headed to Îles-de-la-Madeleine after massive wind storm cuts communications

The Quebec government said the military plane will transport equipment and employees from the Departments of Health and Public Security and from Hydro-Quebec and Bell Canada "to re-establish a satellite communication system.''.
The Quebec government said the military plane will transport equipment and employees from the Departments of Health and Public Security and from Hydro-Quebec and Bell Canada "to re-establish a satellite communication system.''. The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg

A Canadian Forces plane will be sent Friday to provide relief to residents of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine who have been effectively cut off from the rest of Quebec after a massive wind storm hit Wednesday.

Residents of the islands are able to call each other, but they cannot call the mainland because two underwater cables were damaged as winds of up to 130 km/h and rough seas battered the islands.

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The only working phone is a satellite phone at the Quebec provincial police detachment. No boats are able to reach land before Friday, and the airport is closed because communications in the control tower have been knocked out.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Thursday afternoon the emergency was beyond the provincial government’s capacity to respond so it was necessary to turn to Ottawa.

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She said the military plane will transport equipment and employees from the Departments of Health and Public Security and from Hydro-Québec and Bell Canada “to re-establish a satellite communication system.”

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She said the storm and the resulting blackout have not led to any injuries.

Premier François Legault said earlier Thursday that his primary concern is if someone needs to leave the islands because of a medical emergency.

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Quebec’s transport minister said the roads are in decent shape. Hydro-Québec reported about 2,000 customers on the islands were without power.

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Environment Canada issued an alert for winds gusting to 100 km/h, expected to last through Thursday evening.