Eight Canadians were killed and six others seriously wounded in an Israeli air raid that hit a Lebanese town on the border with Israel on Sunday, the Canadian Foreign Ministry confirmed.
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said the wounded Canadians were in critical condition after the town of Aitaroun was hit in the fifth day of fighting between the Israeli military and the Lebanese-based militant organization Hezbollah.
Some of the victims were from the same family and had come from Canada to spend the summer holidays in Aitaroun, reports said.
In a statement released earlier Sunday, MacKay said Ottawa is sending in commercial vessels to help any Canadian citizen who wishes to leave Lebanon.
"We are securing commercial vessels and pre-positioning them off the coast of Lebanon. We are also working to secure safe passage for these vessels," said the statement.
Canada is also in the process of deploying additional support, including a planning assistance team and more consular staff, MacKay said.
The Canadian Foreign Affairs Department says 16,000 Canadians have registered with the government to say they are in Lebanon, while estimating that there are likely two to three times that many in the country.
Israeli warplanes unleashed bombs on central Beirut, as well as pounding its suburbs and striking a major power station nearby on Sunday.