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High Winds Blow 1,500 Americans into Canada

  • VOA News

A Canadian Coast Guard ship tows floatation devices used by Americans to the Canadian side of the St. Clair River between Michigan and Ontario, Aug. 21, 2016.

A Canadian Coast Guard ship tows floatation devices used by Americans to the Canadian side of the St. Clair River between Michigan and Ontario, Aug. 21, 2016.

An estimated 1,500 Americans illegally and unexpectedly washed up in Canada late Sunday after strong winds blew them across the St. Clair River near Sarnia, Ontario.

The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down in the St. Clair River, which runs between the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.

But high winds blew the rafts off course.

"The event has no official organizer and poses significant and unusual hazards given the fast-moving current, large number of participants, lack of life jackets, and, as was the case this year, challenging weather conditions," the Sarnia, Ontario, Police Service said on its website.

The uninvited visitors had to be rescued by Sarnia police, the Canadian Coast Guard, Canada Border Service Agency and employees from a nearby chemical company, Lanxess Canada.

"It was a bit of a nightmare, but we got through it," Staff Sgt. Scott Clarke told the Times Herald. "There were long waits and long lines. They were cold and wet, but they all made it home."

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