Haiti was hit by a severe aftershock early Wednesday measuring 6.1, eight days after the country was devastated by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake.
The tremor shook buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince and sent terrified survivors running into the streets.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says the aftershock also caused further damage to the Canadian embassy.
“We spoke with our ambassador in Port au Prince and he has informed us that the embassy has suffered some damage to the roof as well as the second floor, but all embassy officials are fine, no one has sustained any injuries,” says Cannon.
He also said the number of Canadian deaths in Haiti stands at 13 and that 543 Canadians still remain unaccounted for.
Boots on the ground.
Meanwhile Canadian officials describe the situation as “fragile”.
“We now have over 1000 Canadian Forces personnel on the ground taking part in this unprecedented effort particularly in the Jacmel, Leogane area,” says Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
“In Jacmel the recconaisance team have focused on the area near the jetty, and the surrounding town in able to assist where best able, and to commence clearing roads and debris and assisting in the delivery of aid.”
The Canadian troops are also preparing a new landing strip, to help speed up the pace at which aid is gets into the country.
Earlier reports of looting and violence have subsided somewhat, however military escorts are still required to protecetd aid workers on the streets from being mobbed.
So far 16 flights from Haiti have returned to Canada, including one arriving in Montreal Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Canada is taking steps to speed some adoptions of Haitian children.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says adoptions that were already underway before the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Jan. 12 will be expedited.
The federal government has tapped provincial authorities for lists of Haitian adoptions.
He says more than 100 cases have been identified and all prospective parents will be contacted by noon today.
Kenney says Ottawa will issue temporary resident permits to ease the process and it will waive normal patriation fees so Haitian children already in the system can be brought to Canada as quickly as possible.
However he says this policy does not apply to new adoptions.
“I appreciate the interest by many Canadians and organizations to adopt children who have lost their family and friends in this terrible tragedy,” says Kenney.
“But I need to remind them that it is international policy and practice to try to first find homes for children who have been orphaned, in their own country before placing them in a foreign country.”
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says he supports the policies put in place by the government but he’s calling on the Tories to broaden Immigration’s definition of “family” to include siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins to ease Haitian immigration.