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Floods force hundreds to evacuate in central Canada

by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) April 19, 2011
Persistent flooding in Canada's central province of Manitoba has forced hundreds of people from their homes and closed dozens of roads, authorities said Tuesday.

Officials worked around the clock to build higher dikes near towns along the Assiniboine River, near the province's western border where flood threats were the most serious.

A total of 763 people have been evacuated from their homes, the Manitoba Water Stewardship said.

"Ice jams along the Assiniboine River between Poplar Point and Baie St. Paul Bridge caused surges in the water levels, and overtopped and breached the dikes in some areas," the government agency announced.

"The dikes took quite a pounding," a government official told AFP, adding that repairs were quickly done.

"You can't stop floodwaters but you can certainly manage them," the official said.

Parts of Highway 75, one of the province's major trade routes into the United States, was closed, due to rising waters on the Red River.

The floods, which began last week, were expected to remain a threat in the coming weeks.

On a campaign stop Tuesday in Manitoba ahead of a federal election on May 2, opposition Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff promised to implement a 225-million-dollar program for flood relief and water clean-up.

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