Huge icestorm cuts power, causes chaos in Toronto

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Thousands of people were left in darkness in Toronto, Canada's largest city, after an icestorm brought down many power lines throughout the region on Sunday.

The storm, which is also affecting the rest of Canada's eastern provinces, has caused serious traffic problems in Toronto and the suspension of public tram service there.

The city's hydroelectric company, Toronto Hydro, said at least 250,000 people had no electricity in their homes on Sunday. The firm's director, Anthony Haines, said the storm has been "catastrophic" for area residents and "one of the worst" such storms ever. He added Toronto Hydro is focusing on supplying electricity to several hospitals affected by the power outages.

The weight of the ice that has accumulated on tram lines, electric power lines and tree branches has caused many of them to break, resulting in the power outages and blocking many streets, to say nothing of the damage caused to vehicles and homes.

However, Toronto authorities have not reported any serious injuries, or worse, resulting from the storm.

Weather authorities warned that in the coming hours the region will be affected by wind gusts that could cause more branches - and presumably power lines - to fall. Toronto police have asked residents to avoid going outside due to the dangers posed by fallen branches, downed power lines and heavily iced sidewalks and roadways.

At least 200 flights were canceled at Canada's main airport, Pearson, outside Toronto and this on a weekend when thousands of people are traveling home for the upcoming holidays. Hundreds of flights were also canceled across eastern Canada.

In Quebec, about 50,000 people were without power.

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