Red Deer Cleaning Up And Restoring Power After Major Windstorm
By Sheldon Spackman
You could see the storm coming from the north and northwest for a while before it arrived but when it did, shortly before 7 pm, it packed a powerful punch that the City of Red Deer is still trying to recover from. Winds in excess of 112 km/hr were recorded in some areas and left behind significant damage in many places. City officials say as much as 35 percent of Red Deer was without power at one point.
Downed trees and power outages are still impacting traffic flows across the city as crews continue to clean up after the storm. This, while Parks crews continue to assess the state of City parks and Red Deer’s highly regarded trail systems. Officials say all parks/trails in the Waskasoo Park system are closed, with the following exceptions:
- River Bend Golf and Recreation Area is open; however, the pitch and putt area is closed.
- Discovery Canyon is open.
- Oxbows Dog Off Leash Park is open.
- Great Chief Park/Bower Ponds is expected to open at some point on June 21st.
Although the storm thankfully did not cause any fatalities, there was one minor injury sustained at the Lion’s Campground in the city. Officials say that person was taken to hospital for treatment and later released. The storm did however cause three school closures in Red Deer. They included Mountview School and Gateway Christian School in the Red Deer Public School District and also Parkland School.
City Transit services remain running as normal.
Officials say residents can dispose of any downed tree branches at the north snow storage facility (6859 Edgar Industrial Drive). Drop off is free of charge and the facility is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Garbage, sod, or other yard waste material will not be accepted at the Edgar site.
Mayor Tara Veer says a big Thank You needs to be extended to all city crews and contractors working to clean up and restore power to the community. Also to the Town of Penhold and Red Deer County for their help with the storm clean up and securing emergency sites on Tuesday evening.
For more information on the Local State of Emergency still in effect in the City of Red Deer, Click Here.
Police find two more victims at site of fatal fire in Old Montreal, total now 4
MONTREAL — Police say two more bodies were recovered Wednesday from the wreckage of a building in Old Montreal that was destroyed by fire last week, bringing the total number of confirmed victims to four.
A Montreal police spokesman said the bodies of the third and fourth victims have been turned over to a pathologist for identification as the search for others continues.
Earlier Wednesday, one of the first two confirmed victims was identified and police said at least five others remained missing in the rubble of the historic building.
Police Insp. David Shane identified the victim as 76-year-old Camille Maheux.
Maheux’s body was recovered from the fire on Sunday evening; a second body was removed from the rubble on Tuesday but has not yet been identified.
“The investigation and search for other victims are ongoing,” Shane told reporters at the scene Wednesday after formally announcing Maheux’s death.
Firefighters and police said a fire tore through the historic stone building early last Thursday.
Shane told a briefing earlier in the day that searchers were targeting areas of the building where the missing people were likely located when the fire started. Searchers used a crane, specialized camera equipment and drones, he said.
Authorities have said identities of victims will only be released after confirmation from two separate methods, including a DNA test or dental records.
Martin Guilbault, a Montreal fire operations chief, said a plan to dismantle the upper floors of the three-storey building was on hold while authorities conducted a more “methodical” search. Authorities, he said Wednesday, would concentrate efforts inside the building.
Shane said the discovery of the body on Tuesday evening “confirms that the cross-referencing of the information collected by investigators allows us to effectively orient the search in the building.”
Police did not provide further details about the second victim pending identification by the coroner’s office and out of respect for families, Shane said. Investigators, he added, have not ruled out the possibility there could be more than five people missing.
“We are well aware that the wait is currently very hard and painful for the families, especially each time we announce the discovery of a new victim in the rubble,” Shane said.
Family and friends have identified some of the missing, including Saniya Khan and her childhood friend Dania Zafar, who were in Montreal for a trip.
An Wu, 31, a neuroscientist doing post-doctoral work at the University of California San Diego who was in Montreal for a conference, has also been reported missing by friends.
Charlie Lacroix, an 18-year-old from the Montreal suburb of Terrebonne, was identified by her father as one of the missing. She had rented a unit in the building on Airbnb with a friend, and Lacroix’s father said his daughter told 911 operators that she was trapped in a unit with no fire escape or windows.
Authorities have not confirmed how many of the missing people were tourists but said they were from Quebec, Ontario and the United States.
The fatal fire has raised concerns over unlicensed Airbnb-type rentals in Montreal. Police have said the building built in 1890 included units that were rented on Airbnb, the United States-based online rental marketplace, which is outlawed in that area by the city.
Montreal’s mayor this week called for Airbnb to stop listing units that don’t have a provincial permit.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2023.
— With files from Mathieu Paquette in Montreal.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Analysis: China’s sway over Russia grows amid Ukraine fight
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive to attend a signing ceremony following their talks at The Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
By Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow
MOSCOW (AP) — It was a revealing moment during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s tightly scripted visit to Moscow: Standing in the doorway of the Grand Kremlin Palace, he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two of them were “witnessing the changes that haven’t been seen in more than a century, and we are pushing them together.”
“I agree,” Putin responded.
The remarks — caught on a Kremlin camera over a bodyguard’s shoulder — offered a rare glimpse into Xi’s ambitions and his relationship with Russia after more than a year of fighting in Ukraine.
While Moscow increasingly looks like a junior partner to Beijing, Xi is likely to offer a strong lifeline to Putin, his key partner in efforts to reshape the world to try to limit U.S. domination.
Xi’s unusually blunt statement capped more than 10 hours of Kremlin talks, which ended with long declarations filled with florid rhetoric about expanding the “comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation” between Russia and China, pledges to champion a multilateral approach to global affairs and criticism of Washington.
In his concluding statement, Putin hailed the Chinese proposal for a settlement in Ukraine, which the West had all but rejected as a non-starter. The Russian leader also rolled out a slew of initiatives that cemented his country’s role as a key source of energy and other raw materials for China’s giant economy. He proposed building new energy pipelines, invited the Chinese to fill the niche left after the exodus of Western businesses, and vowed to boost the export of agricultural products to China.
Xi remained tight-lipped, avoiding any firm commitments regarding specific projects and mostly sticking to general and vague rhetoric about expanding ties.
“A lot of things that Vladimir Putin would have liked to happen did not, in fact, happen,” Rana Mitter, professor of Chinese history and politics at Oxford University, told The Associated Press. “There was no point at which Xi explicitly said that he accepted Russia’s position on the Ukraine war over the position of Ukraine.”
In fact, there was “a sense that China was reserving for itself the right to step away from a complete endorsement” of the Russian position, Mitter added.
Moscow and Beijing said they would increase contacts between their militaries and stage more joint sea and air patrols and drills, but there wasn’t even the slightest hint from China that it could help Russia with weapons, as the U.S. and other Western allies feared.
Speaking Wednesday before a Senate committee, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China so far has heeded strong U.S. warnings against providing lethal material support for Russia in Ukraine. “We have not seen them cross that — cross that line,” he said.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby described the Putin-Xi relationship as “a marriage of convenience,” in which they pool efforts to challenge U.S. leadership, and the Russians “certainly are the junior partner.” He added at briefing earlier this week that Putin sees Xi as “a lifeline of sorts” amid the fighting in Ukraine.
Many commentators argued that the summit marked Putin’s failure to win any specific aid from Beijing and cemented Russia’s increasingly subordinate role in the alliance with China.
“China’s domination of Russia is complete,” tweeted Sam Greene, professor in Russian politics at King’s College London. “While there were undoubtedly agreements we are not meant to know about, there is no indication here of a significant increase in military support for Russia — nor even of a willingness on Xi’s part to ramp up diplomatic support. A swing and a miss for Putin.”
After more than a year of fighting in Ukraine and bruising Western sanctions, Russia’s dependence on China has increased significantly. Facing Western restrictions on its oil, gas and other exports, Russia has shifted its energy flows to China and sharply expanded other exports, resulting in a 30% hike in bilateral trade.
Western price caps on Russia’s oil forced Moscow to offer it to China and other customers at a sharp discount, but despite those lower prices, the vast Chinese market ensured a stable flow of oil revenue to the Kremlin’s war coffers.
As long as Russia can trade with China and other Asian states, it will face “no danger of running out of money or being forced to concede on the battlefield, said Chris Weafer, CEO of the consulting firm Macro-Advisory.
While profiting handsomely from Moscow’s desperate situation, Beijing would be certain to ramp up its support if it sees Russia dangerously weakened.
“The nightmare scenario for China is that collapse of Russia militarily leads to collapse of the regime and installment of some pro-Western government,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment.
Gabuev argued that Beijing would be unlikely to provide any direct military assistance to Moscow anytime soon simply because it doesn’t feel the pressing need to do so. “Russia is not doing great on the battlefield, but it’s obviously not losing it, so need to support the Russian military efforts so far is questionable from both sides,” he said.
More than ammunition, tanks and rockets, Russia badly needs China’s help in skirting Western sanctions to maintain the flow of high-tech components for its weapons industries and other economic sectors. Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, predicted that China could be expected to act more resolutely to help Russia get them.
“Russia doesn’t need weapons from China,” Markov wrote on his messaging app channel. “It needs microchips and components, and they will come.”
Some observers say that while Beijing has been coy about supporting Moscow, it has vital interest in shoring up its ally to avoid being left alone in any potential confrontation with the United States.
Mikhail Korostikov, an expert on Russia-China ties, said in a commentary for the Carnegie Endowment that China has been closely watching Russia’s experience in facing massive Western sanctions. “For Beijing, a close study and partial use of instruments and decisions used by Russia is a reasonable course in a situation when China’s confrontation with the West looks inevitable,” he said.
Korostikov noted that while Moscow’s dependence on Beijing is growing, China’s room for maneuvering is also shrinking.
“There is no alternative to Russia as a partner providing resources that China will critically need in case of an escalation in its confrontation with the West,” he said. “It helps balance the situation and allows Moscow to hope that Beijing will not overuse its newly-acquired economic levers.”
Isachenkov has covered Russia and other former Soviet nations for The Associated Press since 1992.
Associated Press writers Michael Weissenstein in New York, and Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed.
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