Manitoba First Nation declares state of emergency after supply barge explosion

A Manitoba First Nation says it may have to ration food and fuel after the barge that regularly brings supplies to the community exploded earlier this month.

Poplar River First Nation, which is about 400 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, declared a state of emergency Tuesday after the MV Poplar River exploded and caught fire while dry-docked in Hnausa, Man., on May 6.

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The First Nation said after assessing the damage that the barge will be inoperable for the rest of the year — meaning goods will have to come into the community via small airplanes until the next winter road season starts in January.

In a release Tuesday, Poplar River Chief Vera Mitchell and the band council said most bulk items — including construction materials — are unable to be shipped by air, so without the barge, the First Nation will have to institute rations on food and fuel, increase the cost of goods in the community, cease the commercial fishing industry, and put a hold on most construction projects.

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The council is looking at other potential vessels but says options are limited.

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