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Canada hit by Hurricane Bill

MIAMI, Aug 24 – Hurricane Bill hit Canada’s easternmost province of Newfoundland on Monday after triggering blackouts in Nova Scotia and spawning deadly waves that killed a seven-year-old girl in New England.

"It did make landfall," US National Hurricane Center specialist Daniel Brown told AFP. "It is now moving over the southeastern part of the island."

At 0600 GMT, the center said the storm — the first hurricane of the Atlantic season — remained at Category One strength, but Bill’s top wind speeds had decreased to about 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour.

The Miami-based center said the center of the storm was about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north-northwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, moving east-northeast at about 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour.

"On the forecast track the center of Bill will exit the east coast of southeastern Newfoundland during the next couple of hours," the NHC said.

Bill is likely to be downgraded and "lose tropical characteristics" in the next 24 hours, it said, leaving behind damage in Nova Scotia where strong winds and rain knocked out power to 32,000 customers.

On Sunday, some roads in Nova Scotia were closed and more than a dozen flights from Halifax airport were cancelled as the storm passed through. Ferry services between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were suspended as well.

"Large and dangerous swells generated by hurricane Bill will continue to impact the Atlantic Maritimes of Canada will gradually subside today," the NHC said.

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A seven-year-old girl was killed Sunday when a rogue wave swept a group of sightseers into the ocean from a cliff-top overlook in the northeastern US state of Maine, a US Coast Guard spokesman said.

The girl, who was not identified, was with about 20 other tourists on a scenic overlook in Acadia National Park known as Thunder Hole when the huge wave struck, the spokesman said.

"She was recovered, but the hospital reported to us that she was deceased upon arriving to the hospital," Petty Officer James Rhodes told AFP. The precise cause of death was not immediately known.

Earlier, as Bill moved along the US east coast, tropical storm warnings were put in place, including on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama and his family arrived for a vacation once Bill churned by.

Category One is the weakest rating on the one-to-five Saffir-Simpson scale, but the storm had raised concerns and the Obamas decided to slightly delay their planned Sunday morning departure to Martha’s Vineyard.

By Sunday afternoon, the storm warnings were lifted and the Obamas touched down safely at their holiday destination.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and ends on November 30.

Bill’s progress follows one of the calmest starts to the hurricane season in a decade, which researchers for the state of Colorado attributed to the development of an El Nino effect in the Pacific.

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