Haiti rescue effort for missing Canadians criticized
International rescue workers are being accused of leading a confused and inefficient search for earthquake survivors at a plush hotel in the hills of Port-au-Prince, where several Canadians were last seen.
The Hotel Montana, an oasis of calm for those jet-setting through Haiti, crumbled last week on some of the most influential people in the country and was a favoured spot for Canadians with ties to the embassy.
Former Liberal MP Serge Marcil is among the Canadians believed to be trapped somewhere beneath the rubble. His name was scrawled Thursday on a list of the missing posted outside the hotel, joining Richard Protean as the only other Canadian on the list.
But friends and relatives back in Canada believe not only that more Canadians were at the hotel at the time of the earthquake, but that some may even still be alive.
Ottawa engineer Chris Ludwig, whose friend and colleague Katherine (Katie) Hadley arrived 45 minutes before the earthquake struck, said earlier this week that American rescue teams managed to rescue a number of U.S. citizens.
He noted that not many Canadians have been pulled out of the rubble so far and wondered what Canada was doing to make sure Canadians were being rescued.
A group of rescue workers on the scene has expressed concern about the search and how it's being carried out and have suggested the crews conducting the search aren't looking in areas of the rubble where Canadians may be found.
A Facebook page dedicated to the Montana missing has been filled with photos and details of people missing as families try to find out what happened to their loved ones.
UN soldiers have restricted access to the site for journalists, allowing them to visit for only one hour a day. As search teams come to the sprawling compound, families of the missing wait anxiously for news.
Families' frustration growing
Some families have grown so frustrated with the rescue, they have taken to digging amid the rubble themselves, ignored by the professional search-and-rescue technicians as they desperately, hopelessly, claw away at slabs of mangled concrete.
The Chilean UN officer leading the search efforts rejected the suggestion that his team's efforts have been lacklustre or biased against some areas of the hotel over others.
"If someone might think that, they should be here looking at what we're doing," said Maj. Rodrigo Vasquez. "We're looking at the whole hotel, not in one specific area."
Vasquez said searchers have divided the hotel compound into five areas, each being searched equally. There have been no signs of life beneath the crumpled mass of concrete since Tuesday morning, when the female owner was pulled from the rubble.
Even rescue technicians were stunned to learn that someone had survived after seven days. Asked what it would take for someone to be found alive now, one technician said "a miracle."