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Major water leak floods downtown Montreal

Jean-Marc Gilbert, QMI Agency

Montreal - 

A water main break caused massive flooding in downtown Montreal Monday, wreaking havoc with rush-hour traffic and the offices and shops along St. Catherine St.

The leak was caused by a broken pipe near the McTavish Reservoir, just south of the Royal Victoria Hospital, and brought a large section of the downtown core to a halt.

What caused the pipe to burst is not known but some downtown streets looked liked fast-flowing rivers, with debris being washed away by the 18-inch-deep water.

One YouTube video shows a student being swept down the street by the cascading water, which was turning to ice in the -9 C temperature and forcing work crews to break through the buildup over sewers and other drainage.

At least two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries from slipping on the ice.

Officials said that work was being done to replace "primary and secondary lines around the McTavish Reservoir," and crews were currently working on phase two of the project

Monday night, work crews were finally able to shut three key valves to stop the rush of water, which affected several bus routes but spared the subway system, said city spokeswoman Valérie De Gagné, who added that a section of St. Catherine St., home to many of the city's prominent department stores, was completely flooded.

Officials were hoping bus routes would be back to normal about 9:30 p.m.

McGill University took a direct hit and officials are trying to assess the damage. Night classes were cancelled and students and staff have been asked to check for updates to find out if it will be business as usual on Tuesday.

Some classes may be moved to other locations, said the university's assistant communications director Julie Fortier, adding that those affected teachers and students would be contacted by e-mail.

There has also been some problems with elevators on campus and they not may be inoperable until Tuesday, she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Applebaum assured citizens that the quality of the drinking water was not affected by the leak.


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