- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien yesterday rejected reports that some of the suicide terrorists had entered the United States through Canada.
There is "no basis" for the suspicions the attackers may have come through his country, Mr. Chretien said in a testy exchange with reporters, who asked whether Canada was gearing up to go to war.
But, Mr. Chretien added, the attack on America was an attack on a member of NATO, and the alliance's position is that an attack on one member is an attack on all members, including Canada.
"There are Canadians who died" in the attacks, he said, "and we don't know how many more were either in the World Trade Center or on the [hijacked] planes," the prime minister said. "This will have consequences in the lives of everyone in the Western world, everyone in the world."
Mr. Chretien's remarks came hours before Canada reopened its airspace to release over 240 diverted planes and 30,000 passengers.
Airports across Canada — from St. John's, Newfoundland, to the northern Yukon Territory — were turned into temporary shelters for planes diverted after Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Canadian officials delayed in sending stranded planes on to their original destination because of tighter security.
One stranded passenger, Jan Hensley, was on her way back to Washington from a conflict resolution seminar in Brussels, when the pilot announced they needed to refuel and turned the plane toward Newfoundland.
It wasn't until the plane landed that the pilot came back and told Miss Hensley and other passengers that two planes had slammed into the World Trade Center towers.
For St. John's, a city of 150,000, the sudden influx of 6,000 diverted passengers to an airport, which typically gets five international flights, a week, jump-started the region into a militarylike operation.
The airport's three rolling staircases were slowly moved from plane to plane, as each aircraft was subjected to a thorough search by police, and each passenger walked through a detailed check by Canadian customs and immigration.
The situation was even worse in Gander, Newfoundland, whose population of 10,000 was nearly doubled when 6,600 people from 38 planes were sent there, said Sean Kelly, a spokesman for Newfoundland's Ministry of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, which coordinated the passenger emergency.
"Given the situation we're in, we turned to emergency procedures," Mr. Kelly said.
He added they are still waiting for the Canadian military to send more blankets and cots to the smaller communities where jumbo jets have been left looking as out of place as dinosaurs.


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