Haitian-Canadians fear for their loved ones after powerful quake hits Haiti

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Published on January 13, 2010

A damaged building is seen after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area rocked Haiti on Tuesday. The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles

Published on January 13, 2010

An injured child is tended to at the Hotel Villa Creole in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Tuesday Jan. 12, 2010. The strongest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and heavily damagin

Published on January 13, 2010

Collapsed floors are seen on a damaged multi-story building in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010 after the largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

A damaged building is seen after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area rocked Haiti on Tuesday. The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles

Published on January 13, 2010

Flames and smoke rise from a gasoline warehouse and distribution center run by the Caribbean Petroleum Corp. and owned by Gulf in Catano, Puerto Rico, early Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. An explosion at a fuel storage facility sent earthquake-force shock wav

Published on January 13, 2010

A man carries an injured child outside Hotel Villa Creole in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Tuesday Jan. 12, 2010. The strongest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and heavily damaging the Nati

Published on January 13, 2010

A Canadian CH-146 Griffon Helicopter from 430 Squadron flies over the Presidential Palace in the heart of Port au Prince, Haiti, in this May 20, 2004 handout photo. The strongest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a h

Published on January 13, 2010

People carry an injured person after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area rocked Haiti on Tuesday. The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10

Published on January 13, 2010

Buildings neighbouring the Hotel Villa Creole in Port-au-Prince, Haiti sit in rubble on Tuesday Jan. 12, 2010. The strongest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and heavily damaging the Na

Published on January 13, 2010

This photo provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres shows wounded people gathered at the office of Medecins Sans Frontieres in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Wednesday Jan. 13, 2010. Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday afte

Published on January 13, 2010

People gather in the street after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the area, rocked Haiti on Tuesday. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

People carry an injured person after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the area, rocked Haiti on Tuesday. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

An injured person is seen after an earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the area, rocked Haiti on Tuesday. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

Debris lays in the street after an earthquake along the Delmas road in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest ever recorded in the area, rocked Haiti on Tuesday. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

Saintanise Ducas sheds tears as she talks about her relatives in Haiti in the "Little Haiti" section of Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. On Tuesday, an earthquake shook Haiti, the largest ever recorded in the area. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

Haiti's National Palace is seen damaged in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. A powerful earthquake struck the country on Tuesday. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

An elderly woman begs for food from people passing by as she lays with other senior citizens outside their nursing home in Port-au-Prince, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010i. More than 100 old men and women were living outside the home, that was damaged during Tue

Published on January 13, 2010

The Rev. Jesse Jackson kisses 5-day-old Mylove Juste during his visit to Port-au-Prince General Hospital, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

A Haitian man who was caught looting in the quake collapsed stores is forced by police to lay on the ground at a street of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. Sporadic looting broke up in the capital as earthquake survivors scavenged for a

Published on January 13, 2010

Canadian troops unload US humanitarian aid from a US Navy helicopter at the airport in Jacmel, Haiti Wednesday January 20, 2010. The Canadian military was preparing the ground for its Disaster Assistance Response Team to function in this coastal town w

Published on January 13, 2010

Canadian troops offload U.S. humanitarian aid at the airport in Jacmel, Haiti Wednesday, January 20, 2010. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Published on January 13, 2010

Cracks from the Haiti earthquake run through the tiny village next to the mission where the US Navy and Marines are setting up relief efforts for earthquake victims on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 in Pandou, Haiti. - Photo by The Associated Press

Published on January 13, 2010

The arm of one of a person that was killed in Haiti's earthquake sits partially covered at a mass grave in Titanyen, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. Tens of thousands of victims of Haiti's massive earthquake are buried here, in several mass grave site

Published on January 13, 2010

Phara Thes, 21, holds her newborn baby Jims Silvera at the US 82nd Airborne Division's forward operating base in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. International aid flowing into Haiti after last week's earthquake has been struggling with logi

Published on January 13, 2010

In this Jan. 19, 2010 photo provided by the American Red Cross, Eleanore Rose of the Canadian Red Cross holds six-month-old Sebastian Joseph at Hospital General in Haiti. Sebastian's mother was killed in the Jan. 12 earthquake. For the American Red Cr

Published on January 13, 2010

In this image provided by ACT Alliance, showing earthquake victim Ena Zizi as she takes a drink of water after being carried alive from the rubble of Haiti's devastating earthquake, Tuesday Jan. 19, 2010, one week after the city was reduced to ruins.

As images of flattened buildings and blooded bodies lying in the streets of Port-au-Prince continued to roll in Wednesday following a devastating earthquake, Haitian-Canadians were on the phone, frantically trying to reach their relatives.
But phone lines were down, making it hard for anyone outside the country to learn if their friends and families had survived the largest earthquake to hit the area in more than 200 years.
"It's frustrating. The lines are either busy or ringing without answer," said Fabienne Colas, a Montreal resident of Haitian descent who was desperately trying to reach her family.
"I think tonight almost all the Haitian people (in Montreal) are going to stay up trying to reach our people and hopefully find them."
It is the hope of more than 100,000 Haitian-Canadians living in Canada, most of them in Quebec.
The 7.0-magnitude quake struck at 4:53 p.m. ET Tuesday, centred 15 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of eight kilometres.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said there are no reports of Canadians being injured in the earthquake. About 6,000 Canadians are believed to be working and living in Haiti.
The Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince has been evacuated and Cannon said friends and family of Canadians in Haiti can call emergency operations centre in Ottawa at 1-800-387-3124 for assistance.
However, the department's travel advisory for Haiti, updated Tuesday after the earthquake, was still advising Canadians in need of assistance "to make their way to the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince."
Carine Guidicelli has no family in the Caribbean nation, but she was working the phone trying to find out if her 150 colleagues who had travelled to Port-au-Prince from across Haiti on Tuesday for a meeting were OK.
Guidicelli, a fundraising director with The Canadian Centre for Studies and International Co-operation, said her group works with the poorest living in Haiti's slums. The group's offices are located in the capital's Petionville suburb.
"We're very worried about them," Guidicelli said in an interview.
She said a Haitian project director was still waiting to hear about his son, who had been at school when the quake struck.
"When you're looking at the Presidential House and also the ministerial houses and everything collapsed, you can imagine what happened in the slums," she said.
Jean-Claude Icart was one of a few in Montreal who managed to talk to his family.
"There's panic in the streets. People are afraid to go back to their homes because of the aftershocks," said Icart, whose relatives have had their houses damaged, but no one was hurt.
As reports of the devastation started to emerge, communities across Canada that had members volunteering in the island nation struggled to find out about their fate.
A group of 56 people from central Ontario, on a church-sponsored mission to Haiti, were reported to be fine Tuesday night.
The volunteers, including Gwen Gilbert, mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, arrived in the country a week ago to help a local mission operate a school, church, orphanage and medical clinic in Aubry, just north of the capital.
There were reports that many buildings collapsed, including a hospital where people were heard screaming for help. The hospital is in Petionville, a hillside Port-au-Prince district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians.
The headquarters of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti also sustained "serious damage" and the UN peacekeeping chief, Alain Le Roy, said a large number of UN personnel are unaccounted for.
Five Canadians are attached to the mission but they survived the quake, Lt.-Col. Chris Lemay said from Ottawa early Wednesday.
And a number of Canadians government agencies as well as the Department of National Defence, the RCMP and Montreal police have a presence in Haiti.
A Department of National Defence spokesman said Ottawa was trying to reach their staff via satellite phones and people on the ground were driving from one location to the other to ensure everyone was accounted for.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the people of Haiti "during this time of need."
He said Canada is home to a large community of Canadians of Haitian decent and "our thoughts and prayers are with them as they seek word about the safety of their loved ones."
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, who's of Haitian origin, said the natural disaster has hit "a country with an extremely fragile infrastructure, where many buildings are already unstable."
"I would like all Haitians to know that they are not alone and that the people of Canada will respond to this emergency."
"We're hoping that there's no loss of life," she said in a statement.
About 50 Montreal police officers are in the country working for the UN.
Montreal police director Yvan Delorme said they were doing everything they could to locate the officers.
"We are treating it like it happened in Montreal," Delorme told a news conference late Tuesday. "We immediately put a crisis team in operation."
Jeff Adams, director of communications at Samaritan's Purse Canada, an international Christian relief and development organization based in Calgary, said they are already sending help.
He said they were flying in a disaster team to look at what's needed but expects that food, clean water and supplies to build shelters will be needed immediately.
Most of Haiti's nine million people are desperately poor, and after years of political instability the country has no real construction standards.
The country is the largest recipient of Canadian long-term development assistance in the Americas and the second largest in the world.
Cannon said Canadian officials are talking with "trusted humanitarian partners" in the country to try and determine what can be done.
"We have close links with Haiti and are ready to help," he said in Ottawa.
He said Defence Department officials are also evaluating the situation and looking at what equipment is available to help.
"We will make the appropriate decisions and the necessary calls to make sure that Canada does step up as we have done in the past with Haiti," said Cannon in response to questions on whether the rapid disaster relief team DART would be sent to the country.

Organizations: Canadian Embassy, UN, Canadian Centre Studies and International Co Department of National Defence Presidential House RCMP

Geographic location: Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Montreal Canada Ottawa Petionville Quebec Caribbean Ontario South Bruce Peninsula Aubry Calgary Americas

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  • Politically Incorrect
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    and by a wonderful stroke of luck, our soldiers and the RCMP are already there supporting a Canada France - US-sponsored (2nd) military coup against the democratically elected government of Aristide, by training the Haitian National Police in the fine art of dealing with troublesome elements the poor. Oooh, was I not supposed to mention that?

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    and by a wonderful stroke of luck, our soldiers and the RCMP are already there supporting a Canada France - US-sponsored (2nd) military coup against the democratically elected government of Aristide, by training the Haitian National Police in the fine art of dealing with troublesome elements the poor. Oooh, was I not supposed to mention that?