May 10, 2017 / 4:26 PM / 5 months ago

Police believe toddler died in frigid Quebec floodwaters

(Reuters) - A toddler likely did not survive after disappearing with her stepfather in Quebec floodwaters three days ago, authorities said on Wednesday.

A white picket fence post floats down a flooded street in the Montreal suburb of Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Rescuers pulled the stepfather’s body from the river late Monday afternoon.

Police officers searched for the missing girl on the Sainte-Anne River, a Saint Lawrence River tributary, as floodwaters receded, but the debris-filled water was too murky for divers.

Authorities believe the child did not survive in the frigid, choppy waters, said spokesman Sergeant Claude Doiron.

“The temperature, the strong pull of the river, all these factors mean that, unfortunately, we are searching for a body,” Doiron said.

The 2-year-old, Daphne Levesques, her stepfather, Mike Gagnon, and her mother were in their vehicle when it was swept into the Sainte-Anne on Sunday evening. The mother grabbed a tree branch and made it to safety. Police have not identified her.

Authorities have begun a cleanup in the wake of historic flooding that forced more than 2,700 people from their homes and damaged nearly 3,900 structures, Urgence Quebec, the government emergency information department, said late Tuesday.

About 1,600 people remained without power Wednesday, Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said. The federal government has deployed about 2,200 military personnel.

Transport Canada restricted marine traffic along the Saint Lawrence, a major shipping route.

Flooding has also hit British Columbia, where two people remain missing and about 230 have been evacuated, Goodale said, adding that warming weather, snowmelt and pending thunderstorms could make the province’s inundation worse.

Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker

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