In this Feb. 7, 2019 photo, thousands of demonstrators march in the street as they chant anti-government slogans during a protest to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise and demanding to know how Petro Caribe funds have been used by the current and past administrations, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Quebecers stranded by Haitian protests expected to fly back to Canada today

Transat said the 113 passengers are expected to arrive in Montreal

More than 100 Quebec tourists who have been trapped in Haiti in the midst of violent street protests will be flown back to Montreal on Saturday evening, Air Transat confirmed.

Helicopter evacuations began early Saturday morning to take travellers in small groups from a resort hotel on the Caribbean country’s Cote des Arcadins to the airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Transat said the 113 passengers, along with a few people from other airlines, are expected to arrive in Montreal just before 9 p.m.

“Our customers, as well as their loved ones, have lived a challenging and uncertain week,” spokeswoman Annick Guerard said in a statement.

“Since the rise of tensions in Haiti, our teams have been mobilized and working hard to repatriate our customers safely and as quickly as possible.”

The Quebec and Canadian governments helped to co-ordinate the evacuation effort, the company said.

READ MORE: New federal advisory says Canadians should avoid all travel to Haiti

Normand Rosa, one of the guests at the hotel, said Saturday morning that the helicopter evacuations from the hotel were “rolling smoothly.”

Rosa said he was glad Transat had finally given in to pressure to bring the vacationers to the airport, after the company said earlier in the week that logistics and security prevented it from doing so.

He said that while the hotel staff had been accomodating and he’d never felt unsafe, it was time to return home.

“We have plenty food, everything is under control, but maybe in a week or two … so it’s better to evacuate before it deteriorates further,” he said in a phone interview.

Protests demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise have claimed several lives over the past week.

Protesters are angry about skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.

Other Canadians stuck in Haiti have also been making their way to the airport by way of helicopter flights or harrowing road journeys.

An Ottawa doctor and three health professionals from New Brunswick endured a nerve-wracking seven-and-a-half hour trip that ended with his group hiring an ambulance driver to secure safe passage to the airport on Friday.

Reached Saturday from a stopover in Philadelphia, Dr. Emilio Bazile said he felt lucky to have escaped with only a few bruises from flying rocks that also damaged a vehicle.

He said he felt relieved to have gotten out but also “happy to have been there, despite the fact I almost got killed,” since the experience had allowed his team to treat some 850 people for health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Despite nursing his injuries, Bazile said he’d like to return.

“I think I will go back, but maybe my family will discourage me,” he said.

The Canadian government issued a new advisory for Haiti late Thursday, saying Canadians should avoid all travel to the Caribbean country.

On Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland urged any Canadians remaining in Haiti to contact consular officials if they need help and to consider leaving the country by commercial means.

“To Canadians who are in Haiti: get in touch with us. Let us know where you are, who you are, how to reach you, so we can help,” Freeland said in a phone conference from Munich.

The Canadian government tweeted Saturday that Air Canada would complete a scheduled flight out of Port-au-Prince on Monday, but has cancelled subsequent flights.

Air Transat said that it would continue to operate its regular twice-weekly flights in and out of Haiti until further notice.

With files from Josiane Pelosse and Helen Moka

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Parksville Beach Festival Society launches campaign for outdoor stage

Public invited to event May 25 to help with kickoff

Crime Report: Oceanside RCMP receive 328 complaints in one-week span

Vandalism and theft of a wheelchair among listed incidents

Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

Parksville advocate to discuss harm-reduction measures for addicts

Morris, along with a panel of professionals, will be at the PCC on May 21

Oceanside RCMP member rides for childhood cancer research in Tour de Rock

Tim Kenning will cycle 1,000 kilometres in 22nd annual event

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

One year after heartbreaking B.C. search, wife reflects on late husband

First anniversary of Ben Kilmer’s disappearance, and a search that galvanized Vancouver Island

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read