Migrants nearly lost in perilous blizzard conditions


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A group of migrants, including a 16-month-old child, cheated tragedy early Wednesday when they were discovered north of Emerson in treacherous blizzard conditions.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/03/2017 (2214 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A group of migrants, including a 16-month-old child, cheated tragedy early Wednesday when they were discovered north of Emerson in treacherous blizzard conditions.

A group of 17 border jumpers were located about 7 a.m. in an abandoned garage owned by Emerson resident Wayne Arseny.

“That’s where they were holed up until sunrise and someone found them,” said Arseny. The garage doesn’t have a door and the migrants huddled inside to keep warm, he said.

Arseny lives in town and did not actually see the migrants, but was told they were there. He checked out the footprints all around his garage later that morning.

The migrants had obviously overshot the town. “They want to make sure they’re in Canada,” said Arseny. “It’s hard to tell if you’re in Canada or not, and they obviously walked another mile in futility and then took refuge.”

The same thing has happened with other border jumpers.

“I don’t think anyone, when they’re coming over, is given GPS co-ordinates or a definitive map. I think they’re dropped off a mile from the border” and try to cross where they are least likely to be seen, Arseny said.

RCMP issued a warning to migrants crossing the border.

“With the severe weather we have been having, those who are illegally crossing the border are taking huge risks walking for long periods of time in open areas with high winds, deep snow and cold temperatures,” said Sgt. Cory Meyers, head of the Manitoba RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team.

“Their well-being is jeopardized, and we don’t want to see anybody hurt. The RCMP strongly discourages those attempting to cross the border from making the trek. The risks are too high in this harsh weather.”

Emerson-Franklin Fire Chief Jeff French said RCMP called the fire department about 7 a.m. to help transport the group to the Canadian Border Security Agency.

French said one of the group, a woman, was sent to hospital with a minor injury, possibly a broken arm. The infant was the only child among them.

French said the garage provided “a little bit of protection but not much. They were cold. There may be some minor frostbite on a couple of them, but for the most part they were in pretty good shape.”

There had been no border jumpers for four days, and Emerson Reeve Greg Janzen expected it to stay quiet given the storm outside.

“I don’t know if people don’t watch the weather, or how the people dropping them off got that close,” Janzen said. “I don’t even know how they could drive.

“They had to walk against 80 km/h winds… I don’t know if you can dress warm enough for that.”

Two other migrants were picked up Tuesday night just over the border in the bitterly cold conditions.

Emerson was already busy putting up stranded motorists during the storm. When the hotel filled up, the town opened its recreation centre.

“It’s starting to get a little extreme to have everything all at once,” Janzen said. “The patience is wearing a little thin.”

Since Jan. 1, more than 200 people seeking asylum have crossed the border illegally near Emerson.



Updated on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 12:00 PM CST: Edited, headline changed.

Updated on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 1:05 PM CST: Headline changed.

Updated on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 2:44 PM CST: Adds RCMP statement

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