Winnipeg buildings evacuated after gas leak shuts heat in freezing weather

(Reuters) - A gas leak closed parts of downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, and shut off heat to 40 buildings in freezing weather, prompting evacuations, a Manitoba Hydro spokesman said.

Winnipeg Police said on Twitter that some buildings in the Canadian city had been evacuated, while the local transit authority warned of delays because transit routes were diverting due to the shutdown.

Manitoba Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen said there was no definite timeline on the repairs, because cold weather had frozen the ground.

“We have to take steps to thaw it out and expose more of the pipe and do repairs. It takes several hours to do that,” he said.

Owen said Manitoba Hydro crews shut off the gas after a contractor hit an underground natural gas line.

The temperature in Winnipeg on Thursday afternoon was minus 22 Celsius (minus 7.6 Fahrenheit) and an extreme cold warning has been issued for the region.

Reporting by Tyler Choi in Toronto; Editing by Susan Thomas