Dec 14, 2010

LONDON, ON, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - As of 3:00 pm, the joint rescue operation, led by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has rescued 237 motorists who were stranded in their vehicles in a winter storm raging on or near Highway 402 in Lambton County. There were no reports of injuries or hospitalisations associated to Highway 402.

The OPP continues to physically check all vehicles on Highway 402 to ensure no one remains unassisted. The original figure of 300 stranded persons was an estimate based on the number of vehicles abandoned or stranded on Highway 402. The OPP is using motorized snow vehicles and all terrain vehicles to reach the stranded motorists.

Transport Canada has imposed a "no-fly" zone over the affected region at the request of the OPP.

Lambton County declared a state-of-emergency at 9:45 pm on December 13, 2010, due to the extreme winter storm. The affected area stretches from Highway 401 between the London overpass (County Road 22) and the City of Sarnia.

Highway 402 remains closed and the OPP reminds motorists to stay off the roads in the surrounding area as travel is considered to be unsafe due to snow and blowing snow.

The OPP is leading the rescue operation and continues to work in concert with the Canadian Forces, Lambton County Emergency Services personnel and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to rescue any remaining stranded persons.

The OPP has established an Emergency Operations Centre and Search and Rescue Command and has committed significant resources to this rescue operation.  Specialized resources from Western Region and other Regions of the OPP have been assigned, including the OPP Emergency Response Team.

The OPP is also working with Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) to coordinate provincial assistance. The Canadian Forces were requested by the provincial government for assistance based on the needs of the search and rescue operation. At this time the Canadian Forces have assigned a CC-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft and two CH-146 Griffons helicopters.

Motorists are encouraged to tune into local radio stations CHOK AM1070, FM 106.3 or FM 99.9 to get the latest rescue updates.

Any remaining stranded motorists are encouraged to remain calm, stay in their vehicle and consider pooling vehicle resources until the OPP and other rescuers are able to reach their location.  Motorists are also encouraged to ensure their vehicle exhaust is clear of snow to ensure clean air supply to the vehicle interior.

Members of the public inquiring about stranded motorists can call 1-888-310-1122 for information.

For media inquiries please call 519-652-4109 or 519-652-4151.

For road conditions please call 1-800-268-4686

For further information:

Media Contact: 
Sergeant David S. Rektor - London
519-652-4109 or 519-652-4151