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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Tourists visiting the Statue of Liberty, Pompeii or Canada's Old Town Lunenburg in coming centuries may need to bring a snorkel, thanks to climate change, a new study suggests.

    If average global temperatures rise just three degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, melting glaciers and ice sheets will push up the sea level enough to inundate 136 sites considered by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to be cultural and historical treasures, sometime within the next 2,000 years, reports a new study published this week inEnvironmental Research Letters.

    The researchers said they didn't try to pinpoint the exact timing of rising sea levels. And while 2,000 years sounds like a big window, some of UNESCO's 700 World Heritage sites are older than that, they point out.

    "The fact that tides and storm surges could already affect these cultural sites much earlier, has not even been taken into account," lead author Ben Marzeion said in a statement.

    The list of threatened World Heritage Sites includes four in Canada:

    - The historic district of Old Quebec.

    - L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in Newfoundland.

    - Old Town Lunenburg in Nova Scotia.

    - Sgang Gwaay in B.C.

    Marzeion, a climate scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said they chose in their study to look 2,000 years in the future to a point when sea levels would have stabilized and there would be no additional melting.

    "The physical processes behind the global rise of the oceans are gradual, but they will continue for a very long time," Marzeion said.

    Levermann noted that the average global temperature has already risen 0.8 degrees compared with pre-industrial levels. Even if the temperature doesn't rise any further, the study predicts that 40 World Heritage Sites will still end up below sea level in coming centuries.

    In its most recent report, released last September, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that the global average temperature would rise by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees by the end of the century, depending on whether greenhouse gas emissions are cut drastically or continue to increase. The panel expects the average sea level to rise by 26 to 82 centimetres.

    In the new study, the researchers combined four sets of climate simulations that calculated the average sea level would rise 2.3 metres for every degree that the global average temperature increases.

    However, the rise is expected to vary by region, due largely to changes in the gravitational pull of mountains and ice caps on the water, as well as the fact that some coastal land areas are rising and others falling over time.

    The researchers calculated the regional sea level at different World Heritage Sites 2,000 years from now for different average global temperatures. They used that to determine how much global temperatures would have to increase before each site would be underwater.

    "If we do not limit climate change," Marzeion concluded, "the archeologists of the future will need to search for major parts of our cultural heritage in the oceans."

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    If the continuing onslaught of cold, snow and general winter misery has caused you to forget how pretty rivers look when they're not frozen solid, we'd like you to meet Cano Cristales.

    cano cristales

    At first glance, Cano Cristales could probably pass for something out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory but you'll have better luck finding it in Colombia's Serrania de la Macarena, a national park situated near the town of La Macarena.

    cano cristales

    cano cristales

    Nicknamed the "the river that ran away to paradise" and the "river of five colours", Cano Cristales doesn't look like much until the fall. The water runs crystal-clear all year round, showcasing moss-covered rocks. During the brief window between the region's dry and wet season (September to November), the river's water levels dip and the sun's rays provide enough light for the moss to bloom.

    cano cristales

    What happens next is an explosion of colour: dull greens turn vibrant, specimens of algae light up bright red, purple and shades of magenta. When coupled with the sunlight, the water is also said to take on a blue hue.

    cano cristales

    The area stretches over 100 km long and has regained popularity with tourists since it reopened in 2009 after the Colombia Revolutionary Armed Forces loosened their 40-year hold on the area, according to Yahoo News.

    cano cristales

    What colourful attractions do you recommend visiting to forget about winter? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @HPCaTravel

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    (Relaxnews) - Sweden's famous Ice Hotel, known for its individually designed suites carved out of ice and snow, is offering guests the chance to design their own bespoke suites for winter 2014.

    The suites, set to be available starting in December, will be made exclusively to order and guests will be involved in the design process, getting the chance to work closely with the ice and the resort's ephemeral art. Prices will start from SEK 1,485,000 (CDN $253,268), making them some of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world.

    "We want to create a forum in which guests can express their own design ideas and experiment with ice as an art material," said Arne Bergh, Creative Director of Ice Hotel. "The beauty of ice is that it only exists briefly and then goes away, it unleashes an incredible creativity in people."

    The suites will be made from the exclusive natural ice from the river Torne and feature original handmade art work. Part of the proceeds from the cost will be donated to environmental initiatives in the Baltic Sea, where the river Torne runs into the ocean.

    Once the client has left, the suites will be left to melt into the river with the spring. Guests will be given a bottle containing some of the melted ice, along with the sketches and blueprints for the design, and photographs of the suite.

    Located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, the Ice Hotel has been a pioneer in ice art since its launch 25 years ago.

    For more information or to design a suite see

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    A record-breaking snowfall in February kept B.C. avalanche crews busy. Now, they've released amazing video of their avalanche control work.

    The footage shot on Feb. 21 on Highway 3, about 15 kilometers south of Fernie, captured a rare double avalanche. The sheer force and speed of the slides is sobering and stunning at the same time.

    That same day, crews dropped explosives from helicopters to dislodge snow that was still sitting precariously on mountain peaks above the Coquihalla Highway. Here's what happens after what's known as a "bombing mission":

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    (Relaxnews) - Restaurant-style dining and seating will be featured aboard the largest aircraft in the world when it takes to the skies under the Qatar Airways banner.

    At the travel trade show ITB Berlin this week, Qatar Airways released more details on the features of the newest addition to its fleet, the Airbus 380-800 -- the largest passenger jet in the world -- and the three different cabin classes that will span the plane’s two decks.

    One of the more interesting features is a restaurant-style seating scheme that will allow First Class passengers to eat facing each other.

    Seats also transform into a fully flat bed with a 90-inch seat pitch, and the entertainment system includes a 26-inch TV screen.

    The plane will be used to operate the airline’s Doha to London Heathrow routes. The carrier has ordered 13 A380s.

    Virgin Atlantic offers an in-flight bar experience with its Upper Class Suite, which is decked out in Swarovski crystals.

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    spinning chandelier

    The underbelly of a major Vancouver bridge is going to be transformed with a jaw-dropping piece of public art: a massive chandelier, made of polymer and LED lights, that will actually spin.

    The public art project was approved by Vancouver's Public Art Committee and announced by developer Westbank Projects Corp. on Wednesday.

    Created by renowned artist Rodney Graham, who was born in Abbotsford, B.C., the faux-crystal, 18th century chandelier will be installed under the Granville Street Bridge, which leads in and out of the city's downtown core.

    "Hanging in the cathedral-like space of the bridge’s northern viaduct, directly over Beach Avenue, the chandelier is conceived to slowly rotate as it ascends," explained a press release from Westbank. "Then, once a day at a fixed time, it will release and spin rapidly, descending back to its starting point, coming to rest halfway to the road below."

    The chandelier is part of the Vancouver House development, an even more jaw-dropping project by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. The twisting condo and retail tower is slated to be finished in 2018.

    Story continues after slideshow:

    This will change Vancouver,” Westbank president Ian Gillespie told The Vancouver Sun. “People are going to fly to Vancouver because of this piece.”

    The chandelier will probably be made from polymer (like what is used for skateboard wheels) with LEDs embedded inside, reported The Sun.

    Concept drawings for the spinning chandelier will be on display at the Gesamtkunstwerk exhibition which opens March 22 and runs through May 18.

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    Ontario students are set to take a breather from the books as schools across the province let out for spring break from March 10 to 14.

    It's a time when young people can put their homework away, enjoy the sunshine (or snow) and let their minds recharge before heading back to school.

    And what better time for a getaway than now, after a cold, and long winter across Canada.

    Flight Centre puts Jamaica atop the list of its most popular spring break destinations, followed by Fort Lauderdale, Costa Rica, the Florida Keys and Cancun.

    And if hotel bookings are an indication of anything, it's that many Canadians continue to look to Florida this year.

    Torontonians' searches for hotel check-ins in Orlando increased 123 per cent over last year, while searches for Fort Lauderdale jumped 102 per cent, according to Las Vegas was the third most popular city, with searches jumping 73 per cent.

    Meanwhile, Montrealers' searches for Miami jumped 224 per cent this year, followed by Las Vegas with a 72 per cent increase.

    But many residents of the Great White North may not want to escape the snow this winter. cites Churchill, Man. among its most popular domestic destinations for Canadians, alongside Quebec City, Jasper, Halifax, Vancouver and Collingwood, Ont..

    There are also options for people who want to stay close to home. Parents who want to keep their kids busy can go to Ontario Travel to view a ton of activities happening over March Break.

    If families want to do something together, they can also take advantage of family package trips to Ottawa, Blue Mountain and Muskoka.

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    MONTREAL - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will suspend practically all its military relations with Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine.

    Baird also confirmed Friday that the federal government will expel nine Russian soldiers who are training in Canada "to let them know they are no longer welcome."

    The expulsions send the "powerful" message to Russia that it will not be business as usual when a sovereign country is invaded and occupied, he said.

    "That Soviet tactic may have been acceptable in the last century, but it's not acceptable in 2014," Baird told a news conference after meeting with members of Montreal's Ukrainian community.

    "We will suspend practically all our bilateral interactions. The prime minister has ordered that we suspend all scheduled bilateral activities between Canadian armed forces and the Russian Federation."

    He also said Canada and other countries were working on imposing economic sanctions against Russia.

    Baird's comments came shortly after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the imposition of travel bans to Canada for people "responsible for threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

    The prime minister did not identify who these people might be in his statement or indicate whether they had applied for travel to Canada or were regular visitors.

    The statement said the ban was to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

    Baird also said that both he and Harper are in close communication with Canada's G-7 partners and other like-minded allies.

    On Friday, Harper spoke separately with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron about Ukraine.

    The prime minister said in a separate statement the leaders agreed that a de-escalation of the situation is in the world's best interests.

    The leaders also exchanged views on actions to support Ukraine and encourage an immediate withdrawal of Russia's military to its bases.

    Baird said he spoke with the new Italian foreign minister and his Turkish counterpart Friday.

    "We all agree that Ukrainian sovereignty must be respected and we'll continue to co-ordinate how best to respond to this evolving situation," Baird said.

    The Conservative government has said the Crimea region of Ukraine is under "illegal military occupation" and that Canada will not recognize its forthcoming referendum on whether to join Russia.

    One member of the Montreal delegation that met with Baird, Rev. Ihor Kutash, said he prays the current diplomatic efforts will not escalate into the use of military force.

    Kutash, a priest with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, said he was encouraged by the actions of Canada and other Western countries. He urged them to keep up the pressure.

    But he expressed concern that the Russian president appeared to be ignoring them.

    "It doesn't seem that the gentleman in Moscow is paying too much attention to that," Kutash said. "He seems to be following his own scenario in his own mind and the best weapon I can use is prayer."

    Taras Hukalo, who visited Kyiv a few months ago, said the people of Ukraine feel this is their only opportunity to get away from the terror of the Russians.

    "They saw that they were being robbed left and right and they don't want to go back to the old Stalin regime that they've lived through," he said in an interview.

    Lawmakers in Crimea have voted unanimously to split from Ukraine and join Russia, and will hold a referendum March 16 to allow voters on the disputed peninsula to weigh in on the decision.

    But Hukalo said Ukrainians living in Crimea have not been able to speak out because of the Russian military presence.

    "The people who are fighting against it are not getting a chance to voice their opinion down there because of the Russian Black Sea fleet," he said.

    New Democrat MP Paul Dewar, the party's foreign affairs critic, urged Canada to continue its diplomatic efforts.

    "This is a time for capital 'D' diplomacy and that's why we have to have people on the ground in Moscow and we have to be engaging with the Russian ambassador here to be very clear about what we want to see and that is for the Russians to pull back and pull out and to engage," he told reporters in Ottawa.

    Harper described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an act of aggression and a clear violation both of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law.

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    Let's be this point in winter, it's pretty obvious that the weather up here is the Number One reason to go. Of course there are dozens of other good reasons to head for the Florida Keys at any time of year. Here are six of them:

    1. Drive the awesome Overseas Highway
    The feeling of space and freedom that comes with driving for miles over open water on a dazzlingly sunny day is a thrill that can't be beat. The Overseas Highway, that part of US 1 that takes you over the water and through the islands from Largo to Key West--more than 127 miles all the way--is one of a kind. Heading south, the Atlantic is on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. There are 42 bridges in all, including the famous Seven Mile Bridge at Marathon, an engineering feat that is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome.

    2. See North America's only living coral reef
    The Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in North America and the third biggest in the world, has a biodiversity along the lines of the Caribbean Sea. It's home to over a thousand different species of marine plants and animals, including hundreds of species of fish. The easiest way to explore it is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, where you can scuba dive, go snorkelling or just sit back and relax on a glass-bottom boat tour. With 70 nautical square miles on display, it's quite a show. Reservations are a must during peak season.


    Michelle Nicole Lowe Gallery, Islamorada

    3. Try your luck at world-class fishing
    The six islands that make up Islamorada, the midway point in the Keys, are known as the sport fishing capital of the world. You can opt for light tackle fishing or the fishing in the backcountry flats, but of course it's the offshore fishing--for tuna, sailfish, and blue marlin, the holy grail of deep-sea fisherman the world over--that's the big draw. In these parts, with a marina and boat charter around every bend, it's a cinch to get out on the water and try your luck.

    4. Sample the freshest seafood
    From snapper to stone crab to Key West pink shrimp--all of it fresh, fresh, fresh--the seafood in the Keys alone is worth the trip. A couple of standouts in Key West are the stellar crabcakes at the Rooftop Café and the fried hogfish sandwich at the Hogfish Bar and Grill. For a great take on this light and delicate local fish, try Chef Michael's in Islamorada, where you can bring in your catch (see Reason 3 above) and Chef will cook it for you. Peace, love and hogfish is the mantra here.


    Sunset on the Florida Strait

    5. Sail into the sunset
    A few hours on the tropical waters at sunset is a soul-satisfying way to end the day. And the good news is that in the Keys you don't have to be a sailor to do it. There are dozens of charters and planned excursions--morning, afternoon, all day or sunset--that you can just book, climb aboard and enjoy. One of the best is the Wind and Wine Sunset Sail from Danger Charters in Key West. Their schooners, custom replicas of a classic American skipjack, are big enough to be comfortable and small enough to feel like you're with friends.

    6. Chill out...your way
    Looking for a place that's kid-friendly? Pet-friendly? LGBT-friendly? No problem. In the Keys there's a place for everyone, complete with a relaxing, laid-back island vibe. Whether you're the type who likes RV parks or campgrounds, budget motels, historic inns, high-end resorts or humble guest houses, no worries--you're never far from a beach. If you're a certified scuba diver, you can even stay 21 feet down at Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. In Islamorada, check out the casual cool of Casa Morada on the bay. And in Key West, you can lounge around the pools or just chill out in blissful comfort at the big and beautiful Parrot Key Hotel & Resort, just a five-minute drive from the centre of town.

    Poolside at Parrot Key Hotel & Resort

    For more information on things to do, where to stay, what the weather's like, and just about anything else you might want to know about visiting the Florida Keys, just go to

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    Ever since 1975, International Women's Day — a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world — has come with an accompanying theme. Come Saturday, March 8, the world will look to commemorate this year's theme of "inspiring change" and challenge the status quo for the betterment of female equality.

    In the world of travel, change is underway, with the global travel market made up by 64 per cent of women, according to 2013 data from Intrepid Travel. Women are also a driving force when it comes to business travel, with half of female business travellers holding 85 per cent of the purchasing power, according to CNN. It's also estimated that 80 per cent of all business travel decisions are made by women.

    Solo female travel has also changed. In a poll of travel agents, an estimated 59 per cent saw an increase in female travel clients travelling by themselves now compared to 10 years ago.

    And yet, despite the evolution of the female traveller, there are still barriers. Instances of blatant of sexism directed not only to women who travel, but work in the travel, tourism and aviation industry is still very much alive. The threat of sexual violence and abuse is still prevalent in certain countries that even governments continue to encourage women to ware fake wedding rings to discourage unwanted attention.

    It's clear there's still work to be done, but the signs are positive. Inspiration and change in the realm of travel won't come by staying home. To commemorate this year's theme, the Huffington Post Canada Travel looked back to the past at some of the earliest female travellers, writers, and activists as a source of future inspiration for all women. Here are our picks:

    What's your most memorable travel quote you've ever come across? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @HPCaTravel

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    While photographing the wildlife in Squamish, B.C., Martin Gregus Jr. grew so fond of a particular bald eagle that he ended up naming him James.

    James would sit only feet away as Gregus Jr. drank his tea each morning, and ended up becoming a major part of the 17-year-old photographer's new project "Where Eagles Dare."

    Taken during the fall of 2013, "Where Eagles Dare" captures salmon spawning and eagle migration in Squamish and Harrison Mills.

    The North Vancouver photographer spent two months living among the wildlife, getting to know creatures like James and capturing them in their most natural state.

    Story continues below slideshow:

    Gregus Jr. used underwater camers and flying drones to photograph these amazing moments. For him, the trip was filled with memories that few get to experience.

    "During the morning me and my dad followed bear and wolf tracks before setting up our main station in the middle of all the action at the Chehalis River Estuary," he told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email. "I waded up the river with a GoPro at the end of a monopod and the quiet river quickly turned into a sea of hundreds of jumping salmon ... I photographed fish fighting for their lives in the shallows."

    This isn't the first time we've seen amazing work from Gregus Jr. Last November, he was named GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his photo of a whale that was beached in White Rock.

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    Forgive us if we go a little "Sleepless In Seattle" on you, but there's just something so romantic about the idea of a houseboat.

    Water views from every angle. The possibility of just upping and tugging your home somewhere else, should the fancy take you. And, well, let's face it, in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, a home that floats can be considerably cheaper than one built on solid ground.

    So, why not release your inner Tom Hanks and consider a less conventional lifestyle. Who knows, a life on the ocean wave may be just the thing for you.

    Check out a selection of houseboats currently listed for sale in B.C.:

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    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people — including two Canadians — lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later.

    The plane lost communication two hours into the flight over Vietnam at 1:20 a.m. (18:20 GMT Friday), China's state news agency said. The radar signal also was lost, Xinhua reported.

    There were rumours the plane had landed safely, but Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines' vice-president of operations control, told CNN that they were untrue and the airline had no idea where the plane was. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes sent a tweet saying that the radio failed and all were safe, but the tweet was later deleted.

    Sharuji said that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet and that the pilots reported no problem with the aircraft.

    Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday) and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday (22:30 GMT Friday), Malaysia Airlines said.

    The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. It said two were Canadian, but provided no other details.

    The airline said it was working with authorities who activated their search and rescue teams to locate the aircraft. The route would take the aircraft from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China.

    "Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," he added.

    At Beijing's airport, Zhai Le was waiting for her friends, a couple, who were on their way back to the Chinese capital on the flight. She said she was very concerned because she hadn't been able to reach them.

    Airport authorities posted a written notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather to a hotel about 30 minutes drive from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service.

    Another woman wept aboard the shuttle bus while talking by mobile phone, " They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good!"

    Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The state-owned carrier last month reported its fourth straight quarterly loss.

    The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20 year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013. All 16 crew members survived, but three of the 291 passengers, all teenage girls from China, were killed.


    Associated Press writers Chris Brummitt in Hanoi, Vietnam, Didi Tang and video producer Aritz Parra in Beijing, China, contributed to this report.

    Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the San Francisco Asiana crash occurred on July 2014. This version has been updated.

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    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Vietnamese air force planes on Saturday spotted two large oil slicks close to where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 went missing earlier in the day, the first sign that the aircraft carrying 239 people — including two Canadians — had crashed.

    The air force planes were part of a multinational search operation launched after Flight MH370 fell off radar screens less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday morning.

    The oil slicks were spotted late Saturday off the southern tip of Vietnam and were each between 10 kilometres and 15 kilometres long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement. There was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.

    Two-thirds of the missing plane's passengers were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

    The flight manifest identifies the two Canadians as Xiaomo Bai and Muktesh Mukherjee.

    An airline spokeswoman says company officials are not able to get in touch with their families but have contacted the Canadian embassy in Malaysia.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted his condolences.

    "Our thoughts & deepest prayers are with those affected by the disappearance of the plane in Malaysia," Harper said.

    Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said there was no indication that the pilots had sent a distress signal, suggesting that whatever happened to the plane occurred quickly and possibly catastrophically.

    Asked whether terrorism was suspected, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said, "We are looking at all possibilities, but it is too early to make any conclusive remarks."

    Foreign ministry officials in Italy and Austria said the names of two nationals from those countries listed on the flight's manifest matched passports reported stolen in Thailand.

    Italy's Foreign Ministry said the Italian man who was listed as being a passenger, Luigi Maraldi, was travelling in Thailand and was not aboard the plane. It said he reported his passport stolen last August.

    Austria's Foreign Ministry confirmed that a name listed on the manifest matched an Austrian passport reported stolen two years ago in Thailand. It said the Austrian was not on the plane, but would not confirm the person's identity.

    At Beijing's airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather at a nearby hotel to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service. A woman wept aboard the bus while saying on a mobile phone, "They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good."

    Relatives and friends of passengers were escorted into a private area at the hotel, but reporters were kept away. A man in a grey hooded sweatshirt later stormed out complaining about a lack of information. The man, who said he was a Beijing resident but declined to give his name, said he was anxious because his mother was on board the flight with a group of 10 tourists.

    "We have been waiting for hours and there is still no verification," he said.

    The plane was last detected on radar at 1:30 a.m. (1730 GMT Friday) around where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand, authorities in Malaysia and Vietnam said.

    Lai Xuan Thanh, director of Vietnam's civil aviation authority, said air traffic officials in the country never made contact with the plane.

    The plane "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control," Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement.

    The South China Sea is a tense region with competing territorial claims that have led to several low-level conflicts, particularly between China and the Philippines. That antipathy briefly faded Saturday as China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia all sent ships and planes to the region.

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Malaysia had dispatched 15 planes and nine ships to the area, and that the U.S. Navy was sending some planes as well. Singapore, China and Vietnam also were sending aircraft.

    It's not uncommon for it to take several days to find the wreckage of aircraft floating on the ocean. Locating and then recovering the flight data recorders, vital to any investigation, can take months or even years.

    "In times of emergencies like this, we have to show unity of efforts that transcends boundaries and issues," said Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, commander of the Philippine military's Western Command.

    After the oil slick was spotted, the air search was suspended for the night and was to resume Sunday morning, while the sea search was ongoing, Malaysia Airlines said.

    The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. It said there were 152 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India, three from the U.S., two from Canada and others from Indonesia, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

    In Kuala Lumpur, family members gathered at the airport, but were kept away from reporters.

    "Our team is currently calling the next of kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," said Yahya, the airline CEO. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members."

    Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines' vice-president of operations control, told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,670 metres when it disappeared and that the pilots had reported no problem with the aircraft.

    Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed in San Francisco in July 2013, killing three passengers, all teenagers from China.

    Airliner "black boxes" — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — are equipped with "pingers" that emit ultrasonic signals that can be detected underwater. Under good conditions, the signals can be detected from several hundred miles away, said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. If the boxes are trapped inside the wreckage, the sound may not travel as far, he said. If the boxes are at the bottom of an underwater trench, that also hinders how far the sound can travel. The signals also weaken over time.

    Air France Flight 447, with 228 people on board, disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. Some wreckage and bodies were recovered over the next two weeks, but it took nearly two years for the main wreckage of the Airbus 330 and its black boxes to be located and recovered.

    Malaysia Airlines said the 53-year-old pilot of Flight MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has more than 18,000 flying hours and has been flying for the airline since 1981. The first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Hamid, has about 2,800 hours of experience and has flown for the airline since 2007.

    The tip of the wing of the same Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 broke off Aug. 9, 2012, as it was taxiing at Pudong International Airport outside Shanghai. The wingtip collided with the tail of a China Eastern Airlines A340 plane. No one was injured.

    Malaysia Airlines' last fatal incident was in 1995, when one its planes crashed near the Malaysian city of Tawau, killing 34 people. The deadliest crash in its history occurred in 1977, when a domestic Malaysian flight crashed after being hijacked, killing 100 people.

    In August 2005, a Malaysian Airlines 777 flying from Perth, Australia, to Kuala Lumpur suddenly shot up 900 metres (3,000 feet) before the pilot disengaged the autopilot and landed safely. The plane's software had incorrectly measured speed and acceleration, and the software was quickly updated on planes around the world.

    Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200s in its fleet of about 100 planes. The state-owned carrier last month reported its fourth straight quarterly loss and warned of tougher times.


    Chris Brummitt reported from Hanoi, Vietnam. Didi Tang and video producer Aritz Parra in Beijing, Stephen Wright in Bangkok, Colleen Barry in Milan, George Jahn in Vienna, Jim Gomez and Oliver Teves in Manila, Philippines, Joan Lowy in Washington, and Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report.

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    This winter has really been urging every one of us to seriously consider packing up and heading out to somewhere warm with family. To truly enjoy our vacation, you and your family need to stay healthy during the trip. Most of us, however, are not as well aware or informed as we should be, according to a recent survey by Ipsos Reid of over 1,100 Canadians.[1]

    The survey tested our knowledge about preventing traveller's diarrhea, a condition that can affect half of us visiting Mexico, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Latin America, even Eastern and Southern Europewhich are common winter destinations.[2] And it can be way more than a minor inconvenience, as one in five of those who contract this illness can be confined in bed for a day and have symptoms up to five days. That's sure going to ruin the holidays for you and your family.

    Let's see if you can separate the travel myths from facts:

    - True or False? Drinking bottled water is always safe...
    False! 84% of survey respondents made the same mistake in believing this is true. Drinking bottled water is generally recommended to cut the risk of consuming bacteria but you have to make sure the bottle is factory-sealed and it is not mixed with ice from an unknown source.

    - True or False? Contracting a travel illness such as travellers' diarrhea is only a minor inconvenience...
    This is false. Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting Canadian travellers in areas like Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.2 Its symptoms can range from mild to severe, and the severe symptoms can include fever, vomiting, and stools with blood or mucus, which can lead to mild to severe dehydration.[3] Also, having the illness can be costly - both financially and experientially, by missing out on quality vacation time with your family and friends.

    - True or False? Food served at all-inclusive resorts is always "safe"...
    The survey revealed 59% of respondents were correct in believing this is false. We should all avoid food from street vendors when travelling. Even at the resorts, the general rule of thumb is still "cook it, boil it, peel it or leave it". We should avoid salads, raw or undercooked meat or fish, including shellfish. Food should be well-cooked and served hot. Bacteria can multiply quickly when food is left at room temperature for several hours.

    - True or False? If you were born in a foreign country, you're immune to travellers' diarrhea when you return to the country to visit friends and relatives...
    False again. Nearly one-in-five (19%) wrongly believe that Canadians of foreign descent are immune to travellers' diarrhea when visiting their country of origin to visit friends or relatives. We lose our immunity to the bacteria that can cause travellers' diarrhea very quickly once we move away, especially if you have been away for a while.

    - True or False? The risk of contracting travellers' diarrhea is the same if you visit either Mexico or Africa.
    It's true, and only half of the survey respondents knew this. Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Asia are all considered to be high-risk destinations.

    Sounds complicated? It's not. Simple precautions can go a long way for you and your family. There is now even a drinkable vaccine to give you extra protection from travellers' diarrhea, called Dukoral. It's taken two weeks before you travel, and provides protection for up to three months. You can get it from your pharmacist without a prescription anywhere in Canada, except in Quebec.

    Before you head out this winter break, make sure talk to your pharmacist, doctor or travel expert about how to protect yourself and your family from travellers' diarrhea and other infectious diseases.

    Tips for Preparing a Travel Health Kit

    In addition to speaking with a pharmacist, doctor or travel expert before you depart, I find that many patients ask what to bring on their vacations to ensure they have a healthy trip. Health Canada has suggested a list of items that you should carry along. Check them out here.

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    Malaysia Airlines has released the identities of the passengers and crew on board missing flight MH370, including two Canadians.

    Muktesh Mukherjee, 42, and Xiaomo Bai, 37, are among the 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian crew members unaccounted for on board a Boeing 777-200 jet that disappeared from radar Saturday morning. Malaysia Airlines released the full manifest online; the passengers are from 14 different nationalities.

    Both Canadians' Facebook pages have listed their current city as Beijing. Mukherjee's Linkedin Page has also pegged him as the vice president of China operations for Xcoal Energy & Resources. Ernie Thrasher, the company's CEO, confirmed with the Huffington Post Canada that Mukherjee and Bai are married, and some of the photos on the couple's profiles have suggested they have two children.

    The airline says Subang Air Traffic Control lost contact with the plane at 2:40 a.m. local time Saturday. Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and was bound for Beijing, scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6:30 a.m. Beijing time.

    The plane "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control,'' Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement.

    As Malaysia Airlines sought to inform passengers' families and next of kin, search and rescue teams were deployed Saturday morning. Teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam did not find any evidence of a plane wreckage, according to the airline. Officials called off the search until Sunday morning due to poor visibility at night, the South China Morning Post reports.

    Two large oil slicks consistent with that of a downed plane were discovered Saturday near the southern tip of Vietnam, according to The Associated Press .

    The hashtag #prayformh370 has been trending worldwide following news of the plane's disappearance, with many people praying for the best outcome for missing family members.

    In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper also expressed his condolences for everyone missing on board.

    This is a developing story. Please check back later for more developments

    With Files From The Associated Press

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    WestJet is making news again with one of its online videos but rather than celebrating a fat man in a red — er, blue suit — the airline is celebrating women in the aviation industry for International Women's Day.

    In a two-minute clip posted to YouTube, the Calgary-based carrier highlights 22 women who work in aviation and touches on the different sides of the business — both for those in the air and on the ground. WestJet says the video aims to highlight the diverse roles women hold in the industry, allowing viewers to meet the mechanics and engineers who build and maintain the aircrafts, the pilots and attendants who work on the planes and the executives who run the whole show.

    "Today, WestJet celebrates women in aviation with a video highlighting the diverse roles women hold in the aviation industry. While this is not a comprehensive list, we hope it illustrates the significant impact women have on what is commonly thought of as a male-dominated industry," reads the video's description.

    The video's a timely reminder of women's contribution to the air travel industry, particularly in light of the blatant sexism women in the business still face. Last Sunday, a passenger left a note for Capt. Carey Smith Steacy, a pilot of 17 years with WestJet, saying that the "cockpit is no place for a woman".

    But it would seem Steacy would get the final say in the matter by making an appearance in the video, alongside with names like Lisa Raitt, Canada's Minister of Transport, and Roberta Bondar, Canada's first woman in space.

    "We need more women in aviation and I hope you come join us. It's a great place to land," said Steacy.

    Like this article? Follow us on Twitter

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    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane's doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

    More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remained a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

    The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam's army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 90 kilometres (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

    "From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane," Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

    The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

    Malaysia's air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar indicated that the plane may have turned back, but did not give further details on which direction it went or how far it veered off course.

    "We are trying to make sense of this," Daud said at a news conference. "The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar."

    Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots are supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does a U-turn. "From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled," he said.

    Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight's manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

    "I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. "We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board."

    Hishammuddin declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation.

    "Our focus now is to find the aircraft," he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

    Interpol confirmed that at least two stolen passports used by passengers on the plane were registered in its databases. It said no one had checked the databases, but added that most airlines and countries do not usually check for stolen passports.

    Hishammuddin said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

    White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. was looking into the stolen passports, but that investigators had reached no conclusions.

    In addition to the plane's sudden disappearance, which experts say is consistent with a possible onboard explosion, the stolen passports have strengthened concerns about terrorism as a possible cause. Al-Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities.

    Still, other possible causes would seem just as likely at this stage, including a catastrophic failure of the plane's engines, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. Establishing what happened with any certainty will need data from flight recorders and a detailed examination of any debris, something that will take months if not years.

    European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi's passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

    A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed that "Maraldi" and "Kozel" were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

    She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them.

    Having onward reservations to Europe from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed visas for China.

    Meanwhile, the multinational search for the missing plane was continuing. A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships have been deployed to the area by Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States, in addition to Vietnam's fleet.

    Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the missing plane.

    Two-thirds of the jet's passengers were Chinese. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

    The flight manifest identifies the two Canadians as Xiaomo Bai, 37, and Muktesh Mukherjee, 42.

    Mukherjee and Bai were married and lived with their two children in Beijing, where Mukherjee was working for Pennsylvania-based Xcoal Energy & Resources, CEO Ernie Thrasher said in an email to The Canadian Press.

    After more than 30 hours without contact with the aircraft, Malaysia Airlines told family members they should "prepare themselves for the worst," Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director for the airline, told reporters.

    Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometres (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.

    A team of American experts was en route to Asia to be ready to assist in the investigation into the crash. The team includes accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, the safety board said in a statement.

    Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all Chinese teenagers.


    Brummitt reported from Hanoi, Vietnam.


    Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia; Didi Tang, Gillian Wong and Louise Watt in Beijing; Joan Lowy in Washington; and Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed this report.

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    Ottawa paramedics say they treated 54 people, mostly children, and took three people to hospital after a large group inhaled chlorine from a hotel pool.

    Firefighters, paramedics and police responded to the Travelodge hotel at 1376 Carling Ave. at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after people were exposed to chlorine.

    Paramedics said a large group of children were in Ottawa for a swimming event and they were staying at the hotel. But while in the pool, children and adults inhaled chlorine.

    Paramedics said they responded because many people were vomiting and suffered from a shortness of breath. Of the 54 people treated, only a trio was forced to go to hospital. They arrived in stable condition.

    An Ottawa Fire hazardous materials crew also responded to the pool for an “abrasive contaminant” and later determined it was chlorine.

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    While most venture north to Jasper in the summer to hike through the magnificent Rockies, there's plenty to do in Jasper in the colder temperatures. And after the skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding, downtown Jasper is home to many cozy places to warm up on winter nights.

    Family Fun

    A franchise restaurant with a few locations in Canada, the Famoso Pizza Jasper location was started by locals yearning a taste of Italy, cooking delicious Neapolitan pies at 900F for 90 seconds in an authentic bell oven. Pizzettas are the perfect size for kids but as a licensed restaurant adults can still enjoy a glass of wine.

    Craft Beer Cravings

    Brewed in a Jasper National Park with water sourced from The Rockies, Albertans drive four hours from Edmonton to stock up on Jasper Brewing Company's delicious Blueberry Vanilla Ale. Premium beer is brewed on site and paired with a great pub menu, making it the perfect place to watch a game or catch up with friends.

    Shaking it Up

    Evil Dave's Restaurant is known in town for its innovative, globally inspired food with quirky names like Holy Cow and Hell's Chicken. You can relax knowing Evil Dave is no longer around but local owners and cocktail connoisseurs Mike and Cyndi will ensure you have a great time.

    Wine and Dine

    With a cozy lodge interior and long standing history, Papa George's Restaurant has been serving Canadian cuisine since 1925 featuring adventurous fare such as Alberta elk medallions, wild game burger and rabbit. Fridays from 6-8 p.m. owner and sommelier Patrice Fortin offers wild game and wine pairings for only $35.

    For more information on what to do in Jasper check out A Winter Guide to Jasper.


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