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Fatalities and hospitalizations due to carbon monoxide poisoning are reported.

Thousands spend Christmas morning with no power

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Digital writers

Wednesday, December 25, 2013, 2:40 PM -

As Christmas morning dawned on Canada, thousands of people faced it with no power, many of them in the dark since the weekend ice storm that left 3 cm of ice on trees, homes and power lines.

At least five people are dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, and two adults and two children in Toronto were taken to hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.

In Toronto, Canada's largest city, 70,000 Toronto Hydro customers were still in the dark, down from more than 300,000 at the peak earlier this week.

The utility recalled hundreds of employees from Christmas vacation, and joined forces with Manitoba hydro crews sent to Ontario to help.

Toronto is currently the worst-hit in terms of the sheer number of outages, but tens of thousands more are without power from Ontario to the Maritimes.

Hydro One reported 31,000 outages Christmas morning, Hydro Quebec reported 28,000 without power in the province's Eastern Townships, and N.B. Power reported more than 30,000 outages, almost half of them in Rothesay, in the Saint John area.

Many have turned to generators to keep warm, with tragic consequences in a handful of cases.

Two people were reported dead in Newcastle, Ontario, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. They had been trying to keep warm with a generator in a closed garage.

Three others in Quebec were reported dead in a chalet on the province's north shore, although it was not clear if those deaths were related to the power outages.

In Toronto, authorities say they received 110 calls for help for carbon monoxide poisoning over a 24 hours period.

On Christmas morning itself, two adult and two children occupants of an apartment in east-end Toronto were taken to hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently because they were using coal to heat their apartments.

Not helping matters was a major cooldown on Christmas eve in southern Ontario, driving temperatures down to -15C or below.

The city of Toronto declared an extreme cold alert, and kept heating centres open for people with nowhere to go.

Parts of southern Ontario are on track for a bit of snow through to boxing day.

Atlantic Canada, in the meantime, can also expect some snow Christmas Day, with the worst coming for the Avalon Peninsula, where 7 cm of snow is expected to fall by the afternoon.

But people in Nova Scotia should look to Thursday, where there is a potential for a winter storm affecting the mainland and Cape Breton Thursday night and early Friday morning, possibly mixed with rain on the Atlantic coast.

Environment Canada said it may issue snowfall warnings, with up to 15 cm possible for Thursday night.

With files from the Canadian Press

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