Transport Safety Board’s Lac-Megantic report due in August

GATINEAU, Que. – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will release its report on the deadly Lac-Megantic train derailment later this month.

The TSB says it will hold a news conference in the Quebec town on Aug. 19.

BY THE NUMBERS: Lac-Megantic rail disaster

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013, wiping out dozens of buildings and killing 47 people.

Three employees of the now-insolvent Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the company at the centre of the disaster, have each been charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death, one for each victim of the crash.

The MMA itself is also facing the same charges.

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Related

  • Lac-Megantic’s ‘train from hell’ goes on the auction block

  • 3 people, rail company face charges in Lac-Megantic railway disaster

  • Montrealers remember Lac-Megantic tragedy

  • Quebec gives more money to help Lac-Megantic

©2014The Canadian Press

Wednesday August 6th on The Morning News – Halifax

With BBQ season in full swing, here’s hoping your summer so far has been filled with more good food and few food borne illnesses. It’s a fact that approximately one in eight people will get sick every year in Canada from poor food handling and preparation techniques. At 6:45 we’ll chat with Darren Leyte of Health Canada about tips for storing, cleaning, and grilling raw meat in order to prevent illness.

At 7:15 gardening expert Niki Jabbour will give us a tour of her own personal garden and provide us with some tips on how to keep plants growing throughout the summer months.

It’s a collection that will make sports fans rush to Costco and buy in bulk! Ontario based @PHGsports has set up shop at Costco in Dartmouth Crossing with hundreds of signed jerseys, helmets, and other items from some of the biggest names in sports past and present for sale for the next couple weeks. At 7:45 we’ll meet the man behind the memorabilia, Todd Rewakowski, who promises to bring along a replica of The Stanley Cup for us to check out.

At 8:15 we’ll get an update from Tim Rissesco from the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission who will tell us all about free fitness classes and other highlights planned for the rest of the summer.

Dylan Guthro is in it to win it! The musician just released a hot summertime single with Halifax rapper Quake and will be hosting a secret series of shows over the next eight weeks. Catch up with him while you can- Wednesday at 8:45!

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Could a Canadian family abandon their baby carried by surrogate mom?

TORONTO – Baby Gammy and his surrogate mom are garnering worldwide attention: an Australian couple allegedly abandoned the months-old baby with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition, separating him from his healthy twin sister who they took back to Australia.

Now, Gammy’s in the care of his 21-year-old surrogate mom in Thailand.

“That could happen pretty much anywhere,” according to Sara Cohen, a fertility lawyer with Toronto’s Fertility Law Canada.

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“It’s a tragedy but it isn’t a widespread phenomenon – at least not in Canada,” Cohen told Global News.

READ MORE: Down syndrome baby boy abandoned by Australian parents in Thailand

Surrogacy involves a woman carrying an implanted embryo in order to give birth. It’s also expensive. There are medical fees, lawyer fees and other expenses you’re on the hook for when you look after a surrogate mom, fertility lawyer Sherry Levitan said.

Paying a woman to carry your child is illegal in Canada, but it is legal if rather than paying her directly, you cover any expenses related to the pregnancy: maternity clothes, multivitamins, health care services, child care, and time off work. Even small details are looked after – if the surrogate needs to drive across town to get to the doctor’s office, her gas mileage is covered too, for example.

“The only reason people go abroad is to save money,” Levitan said.

“It takes a lot of time and effort and there are protocols in place in Canada. If people want to short circuit the system, they’ll go abroad,” she explained.

READ MORE: Thai surrogate mom would be ‘happy’ to get twin back

In Pattaramon Chanbua’s case, reports say she was paid 300,000 Thai baht or $9,300. The entire process could cost couples at least $60,000 if they’re in Canada, Levitan said in comparison.

In the meantime, the 21-year-old food vendor says she didn’t receive the full payment she was promised. She told the Associated Press that she would be happy to have the boy’s healthy sibling returned to her.

“I want her back because she is my baby. She was in my womb,” Chanbua said.

“If she is happy, then I, as a mother, am also happy. I don’t want to bring her back to suffer or anything. A mother would never want her child in trouble,” she said.

Surrogacy involves placing some trust on both ends of the relationship, the experts say.

“I deal with the intended parents all the time and they’re always worried about the surrogate keeping the baby. Statistically, the worry is the other way around – she should worry,” Levitan said.

Under most provincial laws, the surrogate is presumed to be the child’s mother until the intended parents take custody of the baby. It’s a process they must initiate.

In Ontario, and depending on the case, the court can determine that a child was born through surrogacy, isn’t genetically related to the surrogate parent and has intended parents.

“The surrogate has to trust that no one is going to abandon her and they’ll take care of her. And the intended parents have to trust that she won’t want to keep the baby and will be making good choices all day, every day,” Cohen explained.

But the experts, both with decades of experience in their field, say that intended parents walking out on their child and surrogate mom is an anomaly.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the cases are happy,” Levitan said.

– With files from the Associated Press

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9-year-old boy dies after repeated playground stabbing by 12-year-old – National

WATCH: A 12-year-old boy accused of stabbing and killing a 9-year-old on a playground has officially been charged with murder

KENTWOOD, Mich. – A 9-year-old boy died after being repeatedly stabbed by a 12-year-old boy at a playground, police said Tuesday.

Michael Conner Verkerke ran home and collapsed on the porch around 6 p.m. Monday after he was stabbed at a mobile home park in western Michigan, according to police. Investigators said the older boy then left the playground and called police from a nearby home to turn himself in.

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The 12-year-old pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in juvenile court on Tuesday, according to his attorney. He was ordered held in a juvenile detention centre.

Barb Poelman told The Associated Press she was sitting on her deck in a mobile home park when “we heard the kids run across the front … screaming. He (Michael) ran with the kids that were with him.”

She said the boy’s mother was distraught, pleading for help as she lay on the grass outside the family’s home.

“She was screaming, ‘Where is the ambulance?’ while her boy was laying on the porch bleeding,” Poelman said. “The kids, I thought they were just playing.”

Witnesses told investigators that four children were playing when one of them, for unknown reasons, pulled a knife and stabbed the boy.

Glen Stacy, who lives nearby, told The Grand Rapids Press that the older boy approached him after the attack and asked to use his phone. He said the boy called police to report the attack and turn himself in. Stacy said he also called police and described the boy as “very calm.”

“The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy said.

When police arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but the older boy wanted the officers to pick him up and yelled, “‘Hello, I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way,”‘ Stacy said. The motive in the attack was still being investigated, Police Chief Thomas Hillen said.

Tiffany Armijo said her son was playing with Michael during the stabbing, adding that she had never seen the 12-year-old before. She declined to discuss any details about the attack, but said Michael was “a good kid” and her son’s best friend.

“He was playing with Michael and his brother, and my kid, too,” she said. “They always played together. He was at my house almost every day.”

Police said the 12-year-old boy was evaluated at a hospital then taken to the county juvenile detention centre. Defence attorney Charles Boekeloo said he entered a not-guilty plea for the boy during a hearing Tuesday afternoon in juvenile court, adding that he may seek a mental evaluation to determine if the boy is competent to stand trial.

Poelman said the boy lived with his parents and two siblings in the mobile home park. A man who identified himself as Michael’s grandfather when the AP called a phone number listed for his home declined to comment.

©2014The Canadian Press

WATCH: Foreign Worker Changes Impact Okanagan Ski Resorts

It is the second largest ski resort in B.C. and it attracts visitors and workers from all over the world.

But this year Big White says it’s got a big problem.

Every year the resort, like many others in Canada, relies heavily on highly skilled instructors from countries like Australia and New Zealand to teach visitors how to ski and snow board.

But this year because of changes to Canada’s temporary foreign worker program, hiring instructors from abroad comes at a cost of $1,000 per worker.

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“We normally use 55 temporary worker ski instructors. These are dedicated ski and snow board professionals that we need to run our organization. We can’t afford the $55,000 it will cost this year,” says Michael J. Ballingall.

The senior Vice President of sales and marketing for Big White says the new head tax means more than half of those 55 foreign workers will not be hired back this coming season.

Unfortunately he says it’s a void that can’t be filled here at home either.

“The most important people need to understand Canada does not produce enough ski and snowboard instructors to utilize in ski industry. If there is a full time person that wants to work at Big White or any other resort in Western Canada that is a level three or four they have a full time job offer,” says Ballingall.

Ballingall says the foreign ski instructors are being lumped in with servers in fast food restaurants.

It was their employers who broke the rules prompting Ottawa to act and revamp the program for all foreign workers.

“This is not just a Big White story, this is a Silver Star story, there is Sun Peaks, Revelstoke, Fernie. We are all in this same boat together. This story will have a huge impact on Whistler Blackcomb,” says Ballingall.

The impact is already being felt at Big White.

Ballingall says he’s already lost four highly qualified instructors to American resorts because of the restrictions—and along with them, clients who have cancelled stays at Big White to follow those instructors.

“It has a huge financial impact not only to lift company but restaurants, spas, different activities. People are gone, those holiday makers are gone,” says Ballingall.

Before and after photos show devastation of Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach

VANCOUVER – A look at some before and after photos of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond shows some of the devastation of what has happened in the region.

A breach of the tailings pond early Monday morning sent five million cubic metres of toxic waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

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Residents and visitors to the area, close to Likely, B.C., have been issued a complete water ban, affecting close to 300 homes. It extends to the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems up to the Fraser River, including Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake.

Several employees of the mine, who wished to remain anonymous to protect their jobs, have told Global News the same tailings pond had a minor breach three months ago.

But president of Imperial Metals, Brian Kynoch, says the dam has never failed before.

Common minerals and elements found in tailings, which is the waste material left over from the extraction of metals, can include arsenic, mercury, sulfur and cyanide.

“We have never detected mercury in the tailings pond at Mount Polley,” says Kynoch. “There’s no mercury there.”

“Another one I’ve heard talked about is arsenic. Arsenic levels are one-fifth of drinking water.”

He adds that the company regularly performs toxicity tests on the water in their tailings facility and it is not toxic to rainbow trout, which spawn there.

He says that once the solids are removed from the water he would drink it.

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett issued a statement saying in part:

“This is a serious incident that should not have happened. We are devoting every appropriate resource working with local officials to clean up the site, mitigate any impacts to communities and the environment, and investigate the cause of the breach. We will determine the cause of the event and we are determined to prevent an incident like this from happening again.”

GALLERY: Before and after photos of the area:

A photo of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond, taken in 2013.

Submitted

A photo of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond, taken in 2013.

Before and after, credit Elaine Lucas.

Elaine Lucas

Damage from a tailings pond breach is seen near Likely, B.C., Tuesday, August 5, 2014. A tailings pond that breached Monday, releasing a slurry of contaminated water and mine waste into several central British Columbia waterways, had been growing at an unsustainable rate, an environmental consultant says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Damage from a tailings pond breach is seen near Likely, B.C., Tuesday, August 5, 2014. A tailings pond that breached Monday, releasing a slurry of contaminated water and mine waste into several central British Columbia waterways, had been growing at an unsustainable rate, an environmental consultant says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Tailings bond breach at Mount Polley Mine near Likely, BC.

Where the tailings came down, credit Larry Chambers.

Larry Chambers

Post-breach, credit Larry Chambers.

Larry Chambers

Aerial photo of the breach site, Global News.

Global News

Aerial photo of the lake and breach, Global News.

Global News

Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting verified on library book justifying racism – National

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – For years, librarians at a small central Illinois library gossiped that a tattered book lying on one of its shelves justifying racism may have been in the hands of none other than Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator.

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On Tuesday, state historians confirmed that theory by announcing Lincoln’s handwriting had been found inside the cover of the 700-page text, at the same time taking great pains to offer reassurance that the former president who ended slavery in the U.S. didn’t subscribe to the theories at hand, but likely read the book to better educate himself about his opponents’ line of thinking.

“Lincoln was worried that the whole idea that you could segregate one group of people based on some brand new thinking would just carry on into other realms,” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Curator James Cornelius Tuesday said of Lincoln. “He could foresee the whole country coming apart over the issue that different people could be barred from different things based on different qualities.”

Types of Mankind makes a case that different races were formed at different times and places and thus can’t be equals. It was seized upon by slave owners during the Civil War era as support for their way of life. The authors suggested that Africans and Native Americans were fundamentally different from Caucasians, and enslaving them was part of the natural order.

Like so many other supposed Lincoln artifacts discovered in places the former president frequented, the authenticity of the inscription remained in question for years, until a new library director decided to have it inspected by experts at the state historical museum this summer.

“We didn’t know whether we should take it seriously,” Vespasian Warner Public Library Assistant Director Bobbi Perryman said.

But shortly after the 700-page book arrived at the Lincoln Library and Museum, Cornelius made a swift assessment by looking at handwriting and spacing between letters, one that was quickly backed up by other experts on staff, as well as an outside expert the museum asked to inspect the book.

“There are certain letters of the alphabet that Lincoln wrote in a way that were not common to his era,” Cornelius said, referencing Lincoln’s style of writing E’s and N’s. “A forger can typically do some of the letters in a good Lincolnian way. They’ll give themselves away on a couple of the others. This all adds up.”

Types of Mankind was published in 1854 and circulated for decades by the Vespasian Warner Library in Clinton, Illinois.

Local attorney Clifton Moore, a colleague of Lincoln’s, had donated thousands of books to the system, which formed the basis of the library’s circulating collection when it opened in the early 1900s.

The inscription inside Types of Mankind doesn’t bear Lincoln’s signature – but a note in his handwriting on one of the first pages states that the copy rightfully belongs to Moore. Below that inscription is an attestation by another local attorney noting that Lincoln wrote inside the book in 1861, just before he left for Washington after being elected president.

Perryman said the library doesn’t know exactly when the book was retired from circulation – only that it suffered significant wear and tear from being borrowed for so many years.

Perryman said the library is currently keeping the book in its safe deposit box, with plans to restore it eventually and put it on display in a secure place.

©2014The Canadian Press

14 hurt, 3 seriously after 2 double-decker tour buses crash in NYC

NEW YORK – A traffic accident involving two double-decker tour buses in New York City’s Times Square on Tuesday afternoon sent shattered glass flying and injured 14 people, three of them seriously.

None of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening, the Fire Department of New York said.

Tourist Cara McCaskill, of Winnipeg, Canada, saw the scene of the accident moments after it happened as she walked out of her hotel.

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“I saw fire trucks trying to get through all the crazy traffic,” the 16-year-old said. “And I saw ambulances and blood on the ground.”

The accident occurred around 47th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, an area of Times Square usually teeming with tourists near a TKTS discount Broadway tickets booth and the Hershey’s Chocolate World store. It shut down a stretch of Seventh Avenue.

At least eight people, including several bus passengers, were treated at the scene, city officials said.

One of the buses crashed into a light pole, causing it to topple, witnesses said.

The glass in the front of the bus was shattered, and glass was strewn on the pavement.

Bystanders said the scene was initially chaotic, with people running around trying to help.

Rose Cantillon was visiting the city from Ireland and was nearby.

“I was sitting on a bench, and I turned around and heard screaming, and I ran,” she said.

The cause of the accident was under investigation. Telephone calls to the tour bus companies seeking comment were not immediately returned Tuesday.

©2014The Canadian Press

WATCH: Kelowna Boulderfields some of the best in Canada

KELOWNA — It’s a sport that’s climbing in popularity and one of the best spots in the country for it is right in our own backyard.

Bouldering is an extreme type of rock climbing with no ropes and no harness, your two hands and two feet are your only tools to scale the massive rocks.

The Boulderfields in south Kelowna boasts some of the best climbs in the country and arguably the world and for being so prestigious, they’re pretty much untouched.

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“There are boulders the size of apartment buildings. They’re huge,” says boulderer Andy White.

And there’s thousands upon thousands of them in the massive Kelowna canyon.

White has been free scaling rocks for the better part of a decade and says while the sport can be difficult it’s also easy for beginners.

“There’s climbs that are easy enough for the vast majority of the population to climb.”

White and a handful of Okanagan residents are developing the landscape of the boulderfields, forging new trails to make the boulders more accessible and cleaning the rocks to make them safer for climbing, “clean enough so your hands don’t slide off it,” says White.

For the past two years, local boulderers have held a “Rock the Blocs” event, which doubled in size from its first to second year seeing 140 climbers in 2014. It’s opened up the sport to climbers from around the world.

“There’s people travelling from all over North America to climb [here],” says White.

While local climbers like the quiet, they’re also ready to share their hidden gem.

“We have this massive playground and we just want to share it with other people.”

For more information on the Boulderfields and to get involved in the sport, you can go to the Okanagan Bouldering website.

SaskPower CEO issues personal apology for smart meters

REGINA – SaskPower’s CEO Robert Watson issued a personal apology Tuesday on the company’s website for the problems caused with its installation of smart meters in Saskatchewan.

In it, he said, “Despite assurances from both the smart meter supplier, as well as independent industry experts, the smart meters clearly did not meet our standards – nor did they meet the expectations of our customers.”

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Related

  • NDP raises questions as 8th SaskPower smart meter fails

  • Manufacturer defends smart meters after fires

“For that, I want to personally apologize. I want you to know my family has a smart meter on our home. I understand how important it is for you to know your home is safe.”

He ended with his assurance the cost to replace the province’s smart meters with digital meters will not result in rate increases.

READ MORE: Manufacturer defends smart meters after fires

Earlier Tuesday, SaskPower responded to another meter incident at a house in Regina’s Glencairn neighbourhood.

While the house was installed with a smart meter, a spokesperson with SaskPower said the problem appears to be with the meter socket, as opposed to the meter itself.

It’s believed to have been caused by ground settling, which likely caused wires to short inside the meter box.

The meter was replaced and there was no damage to the home.

Water from breached tailings pond near Likely B.C. almost drinkable: Imperial Metals president

WATCH: Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch answers questions about the toxicity of the water

VANCOUVER – The president of Imperial Metals says samples from Quesnel Lake following a tailings pond breach from Mount Polley Mine “already almost meets drinking water standards.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, Brian Kynoch says the Ministry of Environment continues to collect samples from Quesnel Lake.

He says while water quality is a key issue, the water in the tailings facility is not toxic.

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Related

  • What’s in Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings? Should you be worried?

  • Residents calling it an environmental disaster: tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine near Likely, BC

  • Mount Polley tailings spill: What 5 million cubic metres looks like

  • Tailings pond breach has local eco-tour operators concerned

  • Impact of tailings pond disaster on salmon run could be significant

“The suspended solids are a problem because it’s not water anymore,” says Kynoch. “It’s a slurry now. But the water itself is relatively benign.”

He says they need to confirm the water quality, but says once the solids fall out, the water should be good.

“Yes I would drink the water,” he says. “I would drink the water once the solids come out.”

An estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic waste — equivalent to 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools — spilled into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake when the tailings pond failed early Monday morning. The waste water has caused Hazeltine Creek to expand from just over one metre to nearly 46 metres.

“Polley Lake rose about 1.5 metres above its normal height and steps are being taken to pump some of that water into the springer pit so we can start dropping that water level back to normal,” says Kynoch.

WATCH: Mount Polley mine disaster causes water ban

Several employees of the mine, who wished to remain anonymous to protect their jobs, have told Global News the same tailings pond had a minor breach three months ago.

But Kynoch says the dam has never failed before.

Common minerals and elements found in tailings, which is the waste material left over from the extraction of metals, can include arsenic, mercury, sulfur and cyanide.

“We have never detected mercury in the tailings pond at Mount Polley,” says Kynoch. “There’s no mercury there.”

“Another one I’ve heard talked about is arsenic. Arsenic levels are one-fifth of drinking water.”

He adds that the company regularly performs toxicity tests on the water in their tailings facility and it is not toxic to rainbow trout, which spawn there.

READ MORE: Tailings pond breach has local eco-tour operators concerned

An Environment Canada filing from Mount Polley Mine lists all the substances disposed of in the tailings pond – including manganese, cadmium, phosphorous and mercury.

But it is not known how mobile those substances are.

Substances listed as disposed “on-site” in Imperial Metals’ 2013 Mount Polley Mine report (Note: It’s unclear how mobile these solids were, how much was in water, if any, and how much spilled as solids, if any)

Phosphorus – 41,640 tonnesManganese – 20,988 tonnesCopper – 18,413 tonnesVanadium – 5,047 tonnesZinc – 2,169 tonnesCobalt – 475 tonnesNickel – 326 tonnesAntimony – 14 tonnesArsenic – 406,122 kgLead – 177,041 kgSelenium – 46,136 kgCadmium – 6,487 kgMercury – 3,114 kg

Kynoch says “Imperial accepts that it is our responsibility to put this right.”

“Our first priority was, and continues to be, the health and safety of our employees and our neighbours. So we have to work hard to make sure we don’t hurt anyone,” he adds.

“If you had asked me two weeks ago if that could happen, I would say it couldn’t happen.”

Since the news of the tailings pond breach, the shares of Imperial Metals Corporation have dropped 42 per cent.

WATCH: Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch makes a statement after Monday’s tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine

Golfer doesn’t let cancer scare stop him – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – As one of Canada’s top amateur golfers, Garrett Rank rarely misses his mark.

But a few years ago, he found himself in deep trouble far from the fairway.

“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January 2011,” said Rank.

The Ontario-born golfer was just 22 years old when his world was turned upside down. Young and athletic, Rank never thought it was possible that he could be diagnosed with cancer.

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“It’s a lot more common than you think,” said Rank. “Especially among young adults between 15 and 29. It was really surprising and quite the eye-opener.”

But cancer never stopped him.

Rank was back on the range within six months and made the national amateur team the following year.

“He made a pretty good, quick recovery,” said Team Canada head coach Derek Ingram. “He was just so thankful to be alive, to be able to play and just had a great year.”

“I’m so competitive and sport driven that I just obviously wanted to play,” said Rank. “Being able to focus on golf helped in me coming back.”

While his fight against cancer helped strengthen his grip on what matters the most.

“It was tough but at the same time it gave me a better approach on life,” said Rank. “A bogey on the golf course is now different than it was in the past.”

Rank is among the more than 240 golfers playing this week in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Golf Championship being hosted by the Elmhurst and Southwood Golf & Country Clubs in Winnipeg.

WATCH: TV crew captures Hamas terrorists setting up rocket in civilian area – National

TORONTO – Rare footage captured Monday by India’s NDTV shows Hamas terrorists setting up a timed rocket in a densely populated civilian area of the Gaza Strip.

The video, recorded out of a window from a hotel across the street, shows three men working under a tent in an area surrounded by residential and commercial buildings.

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The men appear to go in and out of the tent multiple times and can be seen running wires at one point.

“If Hamas does fire a rocket from here it will have immediate consequences for everyone around here,” the NDTV reporter says.

According to NDTV, the men worked for about an hour before dismantling the tent, covering up what they were working on with tree branches and mud, changing their clothes and leaving.

The footage was captured Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. local time.

On Tuesday morning at 7:50 a.m. local time, 10 minutes before a temporary 72-hour Israel-Hamas cease-fire went into effect, the news crew captured footage of a missile being launched from the exact location the men were working at.

For security reasons, the footage was only aired and posted online after the NDTV crew left Gaza.

Since July 8 the fighting between Israel and Hamas has reportedly claimed nearly 1,900 Palestinian lives. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

The UN and Gaza human rights groups monitoring the death toll have said more than 75 per cent of those killed in Gaza were civilians.

Israel has criticized Hamas terrorists in the past for launching missiles from residential areas and endangering civilians.

“Israel is taking great measures to avoid harming innocent civilians,” UN envoy Ron Prosor said on July 10, explaining the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) warns civilians in Gaza of “imminent strikes.”

“Hamas is exploiting our concern for human life by hiding in Palestinian homes, schools and mosques, and using the basement of the hospital in Gaza as its headquarters,” he said.

-With files from The Associated Press