Canada lends search and rescue aid to Jamaica
The Canadian military is sending three helicopters and 65 air force personnel to Jamaica to help that nation during the current hurricane season, which is expected to be more severe than usual.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay is announcing the deployment Wednesday morning at the Trenton air base. The deployment follows a request from the Jamaican government.
The air crew includes specially trained search and rescue technicians.
The Griffon helicopters and search crews will help the Jamaican government with rescue work during the hurricane season, which typically lasts from June through November.
The U.S. National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration said in an Aug. 4 update that the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be active, with "high hurricane activity during August through October."
The NOAA said it now expects 14 to 19 named storms in the region this year, seven to 10 of them hurricanes, an increase from its pre-season outlook in May. That is more than the long-term seasonal average of 11 named storms, of which six are hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
The Atlantic basin has produced five tropical storms so far this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily.
Hurricane Dean, a Category 5 storm with winds up to 230 km/h, struck Jamaica in August 2007, causing widespread damage and delaying the country's general election.
Over the past few years, Jamaica has been increasing its military ties to Canada. The Canadian Forces has a long-standing relationship with the Jamaican Defence Force. In particular, members of the JDF have been trained recently by members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment in hostage rescue.
Canadian aviation instructors have also held courses for their Jamaican counterparts.
With files from James Cudmore