With downed power lines forcing hundreds of thousands to spend Christmas without electricity, ice storms that gripped the Northeast and Midwest continued to have a deadly effect as carbon monoxide given off by gasoline-powered generators killed three Americans and five Canadians, officials said.
In Maine and Vermont, where state authorities described the ice storm as the worst since 1998, there were no deaths from falling tree limbs or fallen power lines. But each state reported one death from carbon monoxide from a generator run after power was lost. The authorities reported a similar fatality in Michigan, and at least five people in eastern Canada were reported to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It's a real problem, a silent killer," said Joe Flynn, Vermont's director of emergency management and homeland security. The death in Vermont occurred Monday after a man set up a generator outside his home but near a window that drew the gas inside, Flynn said.
In Knox, Maine, a 50-year-old man woke up early Tuesday morning, went to his garage to refuel a generator that had kept his family warm that night, and collapsed and died.
Twenty-four deaths in the United States and Canada have been linked to the storms since last weekend, according to the Associated Press. Five people were killed in Canada in car crashes, while five died in Kentucky on Sunday after they were trapped by floodwaters, according to officials there.
The weather has complicated repairs to power lines: Freezing temperatures have persisted across much of the northern United States, and the National Weather Service said more snow would fall in Michigan and Maine today. Despite cold that kept a thick layer of ice on transmission lines, power companies reported progress in restoring electricity.