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Container ship headed for N.S. being evacuated as firefighting underway

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The U.S. Coast Guard says the entire crew of a large Nova Scotia-bound container ship about 1,500 kilometres southeast of Halifax is being removed, with efforts underway to fight a fire that has been burning on the vessel since Thursday.

Twelve members of Yantian Express will disembark onto the Smit Nicobar, an offshore support tug from Belgium, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup. 

“It’s simply because the fire is continuing. They have safety concerns just to go ahead and evacuate the crews. However, there have been no reports of any injuries,” he said. 

Eleven of the crew members were already moved to the Smit Nicobar on Saturday. The tug’s crew is now in the process of fighting the fire on the Yantian Express, with the aid of improved weather conditions, Canup said. 

The window for favourable conditions is expected to be short, with the potential that poor conditions could return later Sunday, he said. Poor weather also hampered firefighting efforts Friday and Saturday. 

Meanwhile, he said another tug, the Maersk Mobiliser, is en route from St. John’s to tow the 320-metre ship to Halifax. It’s expected to arrive Sunday evening. 

The international shipping company Hapag-Lloyd said the Yantian Express was en route to Halifax on Thursday when a fire started inside a container on the forward deck and then spread to several other containers. Coast Guard officials in Boston received a call for help early Friday.

Eight officers and 15 seafarers were aboard the ship, which was built in 2002 and is capable of carrying 7,510 standard 20-foot containers. It was en route from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Halifax. 

A cargo ship from the Netherlands, the MV Happy Ranger, was on scene Friday to offer assistance, but left after the Smit Nicobar arrived Friday night.

A spokesman for international shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, which owns the Yantian Express, told the Canadian Press Saturday that it was too early to assess damage to the ship or cargo. There was also no estimate for when the ship would arrive in Halifax.

Tim Seifert said in an email that the Smit Nicobar was equipped with fire monitors to assist with fighting the fire as weather permits.

Coast Guard officials are monitoring the situation and co-ordinating assets in the area “to make sure all safety and precautions are taken during this time,” Canup said. 

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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