Canadian man dies in Cuba while waiting for flight home on stranded island

Canadian man dies in Cuba while waiting for flight home on stranded island

A Canadian man has passed away in Cuba while waiting for a ferry boat to leave an island where he and others were stranded. 

On Feb. 16, the airport on Cayo Large del Sur had to close because of a damaged runway, which disrupted the plans of many Canadians who were scheduled to return home that same day.

The airport is not expected to reopen until Feb. 26.

Passengers were finally getting ready to leave Cayo Large del Sur on Feb. 19, to instead take an Air Transat flight out of Cuba at Havana’s airport. But while waiting for a ferry to bring them back to Cuba’s mainland, a Canadian man suddenly dropped to the floor without a pulse. 

"People started screaming. It was chaos," said Ontario resident Chantalle Menchions in an interview with CTV News Toronto. People tried to perform CPR on the man, but they were not able to resuscitate him. A medical team arrived 15 minutes later, Menchions said.

Global Affairs Canada has confirmed to Yahoo Canada that the man has died, but “due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed,” such as his name, age and cause of death.

Menchions said travellers expressed medical concerns while being stranded in Cayo Large del Sur.

“There were lots of people who ran out of medication. I know I personally ran out of mine," Menchions said. "I had people coming up and saying 'I'm out of my blood pressure medication.' But nowhere on the island had anything."

In a statement to Yahoo Canada, Air Transat said medication was provided to clients who requested it. The airline also said a doctor was on the island after being contacted by tour operators. 

"This delay in returning to Canada is the result of a situation beyond our control, and we regret any inconvenience that has resulted, but I can assure you our teams worked tirelessly in collaboration with Cuban authorities to safely bring our passengers home,” an Air Transat representative said.

Clarification: A previous version of this story referenced a tweet posted on Feb. 18, by Canada’s embassy in Cuba, which said the airport on Cayo Large del Sur was closed. The airport, according to Air Transat, officially closed Feb. 16.