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Canadian city evacuated as huge blaze engulfs houses

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QUEBEC — Most of the 100,000 residents of the Canadian city of Fort McMurray were ordered to leave town late Tuesday as a fire swept through the oil sands region, in Alberta province`s largest ever evacuation.

The 2,650-hectare fire, which emerged on May 1, forced the closure of the main southern exit from the city, prompting residents to head north towards oil sands camps.

The fire, which was contained until Monday south of Fort McMurray, was pushed toward the city by winds and quickly reached homes, helped by a drought in Alberta.

“All of Fort McMurray is under a mandatory evacuation order,” Alberta emergency services announced, after previously indicating that the northern edge of the fire was “growing rapidly.”

Authorities are racing to evacuate tens of thousands of people — the largest evacuation in the province’s history — and have appealed for help from other parts of the country to fight the fire and airlift people from the city.

Gas stations exploded and several homes have already been burnt down, including one of the town`s many motor home parks, according to local media.

The airport was still open.

“Be patient, drive safely and please give way to emergency vehicles,” an evacuation notice read.

The air was thick with black smoke.

Long lines of cars headed north via the main highway of the city, while flames ravaged the embankment on the side of the road. Police closed the southward lanes.

“Seek medical attention if you experience breathing difficulties,” emergency services said.

“I know that it`s a very scary time,” Notley told a press conference. “I know it`s a very, very stressful time for people to have to leave their homes under these conditions.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had called Notley to offer government aid to the province.

“My thoughts are with people affected by the fire in Fort McMurray tonight. Stay safe and remember to follow evacuation orders,” he tweeted.

“We stand ready to help.”

A more limited alert earlier saw authorities evacuate 30,000 people.

AFP

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Finance Committee meeting deferred until 1 pm today

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KATHMANDU— The meeting of the Finance Committee under the House of Representatives that was scheduled at 9 am today has been postponed until 1 pm.

The meeting was put off for lack of a quorum, said Chairperson of committee Krishna Prasad Dahal. Until 9:30 am, only nine members of the 25-member committee were present in the meeting.

Issues relating to capital expenditures and non-budgetary release of fund were scheduled for discussion in the meeting.

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