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(Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - 4:30 PM) -- Halifax Regional Municipality has activated its Emergency Operations Centre to help respond to the needs of the United States citizens and others traveling on international flights diverted to Halifax International Airport due to terrorist activities today in the U.S.
The municipality's Emergency Measures Organization is working with Federal and Provincial Departments and agencies; the Halifax Regional School Board; and other local emergency response agencies to establish emergency shelters to accommodate the visitors.
Halifax International Airport may receive as many as 50 international flights by early evening, all diverted as a result of United States airports being closed due to various terrorists attacks earlier today. As of 4:00 PM, 34 planes have landed, carrying a total of approximately 3,200 passengers and crew.
The Sackville Sports Complex has been designated as the first emergency shelter and the first international passengers are expected to be transported by Halifax Transit buses to this facility this afternoon. HRM also expects to open a number of high schools and junior high schools in the Bedford-Sackville-Dartmouth areas as emergency shelters later today.
Four cruise ships carrying several thousand U.S. and other passengers were visiting Halifax today. HRM was advised this afternoon that those vessels have now left port.
Halifax Regional Police, R.C.M.P., Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service, Parks & Recreation Services, and HRM Shared Services, are among the many municipal business or service units participating in the emergency effort with officials of the Halifax International Airport and other Federal and Provincial Departments and agencies.
Persons seeking information about passengers traveling on those flights diverted to Halifax are asked to contact the respective air carrier and those messages will be passed along to the various emergency shelters.
Mayor Peter Kelly has been in contact with Mark Seibel, the Acting U.S. Consul in Halifax, and extended sympathies on behalf of the residents of HRM to the people of the United States, in light of the tragedies in New York, Washington, and other centers today.
The Mayor also expressed HRM's willingness to provide accommodation and other assistance to U.S. citizens who were visiting Halifax or diverted here on international flights.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the United States today in light of these terrible and cowardly acts of terrorism. We will do everything within our power to accommodate and make comfortable those United States and other citizens who are here with us today, " he said.
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HRM Corporate Communications Officer