WestJet to rescue Canadians stranded by hurricane Irma St. Maarten

Elias Hubbard
September 12, 2017

Fitzpatrick says the Canadians are expected to arrive in Toronto Monday evening. An estimated 70 per cent of the homes on St. Maarten were damaged or destroyed by Irma and four people have died. The airline is asking people to register in advance of the flight through Facebook messenger, Twitter direct message or by contacting the call centre at 1-888-937-8538. "Our particular focus has been two flights that left Toronto's Pearson early this morning to the worst affected areas of which we have awareness of significant numbers of Canadians - that's St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos Islands".

Sunwing said in a statement that it sent rescue flights to St. Maarten over the weekend to move stranded tourists to Punta Cana.

Fitzpatrick says the workers were allowed to disembark, but airport and civil aviation authorities wouldn't allow Air Canada to board the passengers, who had been waiting at the airport.

Those who have no access to a phone or email should come straight to the airports in Turks and Caicos and St. Marteen, Freeland said.

"It has definitely been an emotional roller coaster for sure", she said.

Air Canada says it's working to bring home 95 Canadians after local officials barred them from a flight leaving the storm-ravaged Turks and Caicos Islands.

Freeland said the government has increased staffing at itsemergency response centre in Ottawa in order to field all the calls from stranded Canadians and their anxious relatives.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole said Monday his party is concerned the government hasn't responded quickly enough.

The Canadians were to take the flight back home on its return leg.

They have pleaded without success for the Canadian government to send a military rescue flight, as the American government did for US citizens.

"The lack of communication from the government to Canadians in crisis, particularly those stranded in the Caribbean islands, is unacceptable when compared with the quick action shown by several other countries", Laverdière said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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