Nova Scotia

Navy ships arrive off Haiti

The Canadian ships HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Halifax — and their cargo of relief supplies — are off Haiti's north coast.

The Canadian ships HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Halifax — and their cargo of relief supplies — are off Haiti's north coast.

The ships were preparing Monday morning to meet with a U.S. navy supply ship to replenish their fuel, said CBC reporter Rob Gordon, who is aboard Athabaskan.

Gordon said it's still unclear where the Canadians will go, but their focus will be on areas outside the capital of Port-au-Prince that are inaccessible by land.

A navy helicopter is expected to fly over the coast to scout for locations for the landing parties.

 

The two ships and their combined crew of 500 left Halifax on Thursday. The sailors have been busy training and preparing supplies for their mission, and are eager to start to help, Gordon said.

The 60-person teams will go ashore in inflatable boats while the big ships remain at sea. They will clear roads of debris so that aid convoys can get in, offer first aid if they can, and look for Canadians and the bodies of Canadians so they can be returned home.

The teams will carry chainsaws, concrete cutters and body bags, and return to their ships just before sunset.

The sailors will be protected by a naval boarding party carrying 9-mm handguns, due to reports of lawlessness in the devastated country with the collapse of the police force and legal system.

Eleven Canadians were confirmed dead and another 859 were missing as of Monday morning. The Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake, though Haitian officials say the death toll is higher.

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