282 stranded train passengers in Labrador catching flights
Train lost power in Labrador for 8 hours in freezing cold, temperatures ranged from - 26 C to - 33 C
Passengers that were stranded on a freezing train in Labrador for eight hours on Friday were finally on their way to their destination Saturday afternoon, after spending the night in bunkhouses in Labrador City and Fermont, Que.
Two pregnant women, children and seniors were among the 282 passengers who were stranded when their train lost power in Labrador on Friday morning, as temperatures plummeted below - 30 C.
The Tshiuetin Rail Transportation train was en route to Sept-Iles, Que., from Schefferville, Que., when power was lost about 65 kilometres outside Labrador City, with about eight hours to go before its final destination.
It was hours before town officials were notified about the train.
Fire Chief Joe Power said flights out of Wabush Airport began departing at around 11 a.m. with the first group of passengers, heading for Sept-Iles.
Two more flights were set to depart Saturday afternoon with the remaining passengers.
"We're getting a great response from the passengers," Power said. "Last night, they were all very relieved when the buses showed up there at 6:30 and we brought them back to Menihek High School, and we got them registered and actually got them out into the bunkhouses."
Power, who was one of the first to arrive at the train, said the passengers were lucky the train stopped where it did
"It could have been a lot worse this evening. They could have been 100 kilometres or so up the track with no help."
Power said groups in the communities of Wabush, Labrador City and Fermont all put in extensive efforts to accommodate and feed the stranded visitors.
Even the toilets froze
Rail conductor Joe Shecanapish said no matter what conductors did, they were unable to bring power back to the train.
"We did everything we can. We couldn't do it. Water froze, toilets froze, everything," he said.
Shecanapish said they tried to squeeze people into a small cabin to warm up. He said some blankets were provided to passengers.
During the ordeal, temperatures ranged from - 26 C to - 33 C.
"It's like, hey -- right now my feet are still cold," said Simon Einish, who was travelling with his family to Ontario.
Some of the passengers were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but there were no major injuries.
With files from Christopher Ensing