Hundreds of Canadians are still missing in the quake-ravaged regions of Haiti, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said today.
“A total of 1,415 Canadians are missing in the affected area,” he told a morning news briefing.
The military has already flown 272 Canadians home, but 50 others are still being sheltered at the Canadian embassy in Haiti, with 50 more housed elsewhere.
Cannon says the Canadian death toll remains at four, with 13 others injured.
The minister said Canadian officials are in close contact with other donor nations, trying to ensure that aid efforts mesh smoothly.
“We continue to hold multiple calls with other countries because it is central and crucial that intervention efforts are co-ordinated,” he said.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the Canadian Forces have already flown in rescue equipment, humanitarian supplies and RCMP and military police officers, with four more flights scheduled for today.
There are 144 military personnel now on the ground in Haiti, with more to come.
“The Canadian Forces have made good progress in establishing a footprint for staging search and rescue operations, relief efforts and aid delivery,” MacKay said.
“Depending on air traffic at the Port-au-Prince airport our plan is to send another four flights to Haiti today.” he said.
Those flights will carry more people from the military disaster response team as well as six G-wagons, which are armoured SUVs.
The longer-term plan is to send two big C-17 transports in every day, with smaller C-130 Hercules aircraft making three flights every two days.
Two Canadian warships, HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Halifax are expected to arrive in four days or so, with additional relief equipment.
Cannon and MacKay both expressed condolences to the family of an RCMP officer killed in the quake.
Sgt. Mark Gallagher’s body was discovered in the wreckage of his quarters in Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile, the first plane loads of evacuated Canadians arrived in Montreal last night mingling smiles with tears as they shook hands with politicians waiting to receive them.
“Thank you,” said one of the first men on the ground. “Thank you for bringing us home.”
Many of the evacuees were bundled in white Red Cross blankets, or grey military blankets as they trudged through an airport lounge.
As many as 50,000 people are feared dead in the quake, with thousands more at risk from thirst, hunger and disease.