Haiti Quake

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Stunning recovery: Haitian girl pulled from debris

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- French rescuers pulled a teenage girl -- very dehydrated, with a broken left leg and moments from death -- from the rubble of a home near the destroyed St. Gerard University on Wednesday, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city.

Darlene Etienne was rushed to a French military field hospital and then to the French military hospital ship Sirroco, groaning through an oxygen mask with her eyes open in a lost stare.

"She's alive!" said paramedic Paul Francois-Valette, who accompanied her into the hospital.

Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water, little alone more than two weeks. But Etienne may have had some access to water from a bathroom of the collapsed home, and rescuers said she mumbled something about having a little Coca-Cola with her in the rubble.

Her family said Etienne, 17, had just started studying when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staff in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes.

"We thought she was dead," her cousin, Jocelyn A. St. Jules, said in a telephone call with The Associated Press.

Then -- half a month after the earthquake -- neighbors on Wednesday heard a voice weakly calling from the rubble of a private home down the road from the collapsed university. They called authorities, who brought in the French civil response team.

Rescuer Claude Fuilla then walked along the dangerously crumbled roof, heard her voice and saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. Clearing away some debris, he managed to reach the young woman and see she was alive -- barely.

"She couldn't really talk to us or say how long she'd been there but I think she'd been there since the earthquake. I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours," Fuilla said.

Digging out a hole big enough to give her oxygen and water, they found she had a very weak pulse. Within 45 minutes they managed to remove her, covered in dust. Fuilla said she was rescued from what appeared to be the porch area of the house, but a neighbor said he believed it was the shower room, where she might have had access to water.

"It's exceptional. She spoke to us in a very little voice, she was extremely weak," Fuilla said. "Before we stabilized her she was extremely dehydrated and weak she had a very low blood pressure."

Another rescuer, French Lt. Col. Christophe Renou, said he had no idea how she had managed to cling to life for so long: "Definitely she's been here for 15 days. She wasn't hurt but she was very, very weak."

Renou said his team would probably return Thursday with radar equipment to look for any other possible survivors.

French Ambassador Didier le Bret praised the persistence of the French rescue team, which has kept looking for survivors for days after the Haitian government officially called off the search.

"They are so stubborn because they should not have been working anymore because, officially, the rescue phase is over. But they felt that some lives still are to be saved, so we did not say that they should leave the country," he told Associated Press Television News.

"To be honest we thought that the last miracle we had a couple of days ago ... would be the last miracle because the chances are so very, very slight. But it seems that beyond the miracle, there was another miracle."

The last previous confirmed rescue of someone trapped by the initial quake occurred Saturday, 11 days later, when French rescuers extricated a man from the ruins of a hotel grocery store. A man pulled Tuesday from the rubble of a downtown store later and treated by the U.S. military for severe dehydration and a broken leg said he had been trapped during an aftershock.

At least 135 people have been unearthed by rescue teams since the Jan. 12 quake, and many more by relatives and neighbors. But most of these rescues were in the immediate aftermath and authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water.

(Mainichi Japan) January 28, 2010

Haiti's children on their own on shattered streets

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- The children with no names lay mute in a corner of the General Hospital grounds Tuesday, three among thousands of boys and girls set adrift in the wake of Haiti's earthquake.

"Hi, Joe, how are you?" the American doctor tried, using a pet name the staff had given a boy of about 11.

There was no response.

"Joe," ''Baby Sebastian" and the girl who didn't even have a nickname hadn't spoken or cried since they were brought in over the previous 48 hours -- by neighbors, passers-by, no one knows who. "Sebastian," only a week old, was said to have been taken from the arms of his dead mother.

They're lucky: Haitian-born Dr. Winston Price and the staff were treating them for infections and other ailments. Hundreds of thousands of other hungry and thirsty children are scattered among Port-au-Prince's squatter camps of survivors, without protection against disease or child predators -- often with nobody to care for them.

"There's an estimated 1 million unaccompanied or orphaned children or children who lost one parent," said Kate Conradt, a spokeswoman for the aid group Save the Children. "They are extremely vulnerable."

The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, has established a special tent camp for girls and boys separated from their parents in the Jan. 12 quake, and who are in danger of falling prey to child traffickers and other abusers. The Connecticut-based Save the Children has set up "Child Spaces" in 13 makeshift settlements. The Red Cross and other groups are working to reunite families and get children into orphanages.

The post-quake needs of Haiti's children have outrun available help. Some youngsters have been released from hospitals with no one to care for them -- there just aren't enough beds.

"Health workers are being advised to monitor and send separated/unaccompanied children to child-friendly spaces," the U.N. humanitarian office said in its latest situation report.

The plight of the young is poignant even in a country where the U.N. estimates a third of the 9 million population needs international assistance in the quake's aftermath. "We still have a huge distance to go," said John Holmes, the U.N. relief coordinator.

That was evident in Port-au-Prince's streets, alleys and crumbled doorways, where handwritten messages begged for help. In the Juvenat neighborhood, a group of 50 families hung a white sheet from a doorway, with this plea scrawled in green: "We need food assistance, water and medicine."

It was evident, too, among the thousands pressing against Haitian police at a food-distribution site in the Cite Soleil slum. They swung sticks to beat back the crowd.

Brazilian troops in armored personnel carriers controlled a tightly packed line of earthquake survivors waiting for food in the broiling sun by firing pepper spray and training their guns on the jostling, rowdy crowd. The line stretched between the partially collapsed National Palace and entirely destroyed Supreme Court.

One soldier loaded a shotgun and returned their taunts by shouting back insults in Creole. Some were offended, others amused at hearing a Brazilian trooper insulting them in their own language.

"They treat us like animals, they beat us but we are hungry people," said Muller Bellegarde, 30.

Several left without getting food, fearful of the pepper spray, the soldiers, and thugs who were grabbing food from receivers.

Many said they appreciate the international response and under no circumstances want the Haitian government to handle aid deliveries, but suggested Haitian churches could provide more orderly and respectful venues for distributions, with Haitian communities organizing security.

"The help is good but the way they're doing it is bad. This is anarchy," Thomas Louis, 40, trying to get rice and oil for his two babies, aged 2 and six months. "This is not aid. This is a way to put people down."

Also Tuesday, Haitians in a crowd of looters pulled a man from the rubble of a store that had been repeatedly scavenged, and called for help from U.S. soldiers, who treated him for a broken leg and severe dehydration. Rico Dibrivell, 35, claimed he had been trapped since the earthquake two weeks earlier, but the military provided no details about how he managed to survive.

More than 100 have been unearthed by rescue teams since the Jan. 12 quake, and many more by their neighbors, but most of those were in the immediate aftermath and authorities say it is unlikely for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water. On Saturday, an international team of rescuers unearthed a shop clerk who they believed had been buried since the earthquake.

The monumental scale of the Haiti disaster -- perhaps 200,000 dead, a capital city on its knees -- has severely strained the world's ability to get relief supplies through Port-au-Prince's overloaded airport and crippled seaport.

Some 800 to 1,000 aid flights were still awaiting permission to land, a seven-day backlog, U.N. and European officials reported Tuesday. On top of that, "trucks are needed," U.N. spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva -- especially small trucks because "the streets are extremely congested."

The U.N.'s Holmes estimated that 2 million people need food, but only 500,000 have received some so far.

The medical picture has improved, but remains critical. World Health Organization spokesman Paul Garwood said more medical staff is needed, especially rehabilitation specialists, to help with postoperative recovery of 200,000 people who have had amputations or other surgery.

Haitians and volunteers from dozens of countries, working around the clock, were still performing up to 100 amputations a day in some hospitals.

At the General Hospital, Price strode from tent to tent checking on the 81 children under his care. Staff interrupted the tall, balding pediatrician with a string of questions: "Do you know about this baby?" ''Where's the medication?" ''Where will we sleep tonight?"

Of the nameless, speechless trio, he was treating young Joe for an infection oozing from both eyes. The 7-pound (3-kilogram) Baby Sebastian, in a white diaper decorated with sheep, had diarrhea. The unnamed girl, about 10, lay listlessly and stared upward. She had an eye infection, but would soon be picked up by an orphanage, Price said.

With no clues to their past, Price could only wonder.

"Maybe some of these parents are not even looking because their house was destroyed and they might think the kid was inside," he said. "But maybe the kid was pulled out, so they are missing each other."

Children left alone are everywhere. At one of the 13 Save the Children sites, about 25 children have no adult relatives taking care of them, Conradt said. She said the group has helped some 6,000 children since the quake.

The aid group's "Child Spaces" are cordoned-off areas where children can play under supervision," run around being children, giving them a chance to return to normalcy as much as they can."

Such areas also protect children against the potential for abduction by child traffickers, a chronic problem in pre-quake Haiti, where thousands were handed over to other families into lives of domestic servitude, said Deb Barry, an emergency protection adviser with Save the Children.

She said her organization was working to track down every rumor it hears about threats to stranded children, "but we haven't been able to verify those thus far."

In Geneva, a UNICEF spokeswoman, Veronique Taveau, said the organization had been told of children disappearing from hospitals. "It's difficult to establish the reality," she said, but added that UNICEF has strengthened security at hospitals and orphanages.

Save the Children, the Red Cross and other organizations, meanwhile, are trying to establish a joint database of information to try to reunite separated families.

Government spokeswoman Marie Laurence Jocelyn-Lassegue, the communications minister, said Tuesday that Haitian officials have temporarily halted new adoptions because of concerns about corruption and carelessness in the system.

"Some children we don't know if the parents are alive or not," Jocelyn-Lassegue said.

(Mainichi Japan) January 27, 2010

Survivors flee Haiti capital; buried still saved

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- By boat or by bus, by bicycle and on foot along clogged and broken roads, earthquake survivors streamed away from this city and its landscape of desolation Friday and into Haiti's hinterlands and the unknown.

The government and international agencies urgently searched for sites to build tent cities on Port-au-Prince's outskirts to shelter hundreds of thousands of the homeless staying behind before springtime's onslaught of floods and hurricanes.

"We need to get people out of the sun and elements," U.N. spokesman Nicholas Reader said as relief teams worked to deliver food, water and medical aid to the population, estimated at 1 million, sprawled over some 600 settlements around the rubble-strewn capital and in the quake zone beyond.

Into this bleak picture Friday came stunning word of rescues from beneath the ruins, 10 days after the killer quake.

An Israeli search team pulled a 22-year-old man from a crevasse in the rubble of what had been a three-story home, according to an Israeli Defense Forces statement and video of the rescue obtained by The Associated Press. He was reported in stable condition at an Israeli field hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Earlier Friday, an 84-year-old woman was said by relatives to have been pulled from the wreckage of her home, according to doctors administering oxygen and intravenous fluids to her at the General Hospital. They said they had little hope the woman, in bad condition, would live.

The rescues came two days after many international search teams began packing up their gear.

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck Jan. 12 and killed an estimated 200,000 people, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission. Countless dead remained buried in thousands of collapsed and toppled buildings in Port-au-Prince, a city of slums that drew migrants from an even more destitute countryside.

Now that movement has abruptly reversed, as quake victims, with meager belongings, jam small buses and battered automobiles, take to bicycles or just walk to outlying towns and rural areas, to relatives or whatever shelter they can find.

They jammed a simple Port-au-Prince wharf as well, in hopes of a spot aboard an outbound skiff sailing up the coast. "I'll wait till I find one," said Edson Roddy, 18.

"A lot of people are leaving. You can't imagine how many people are going back home," said Menoir Sadeius, 24, who works small school buses with passengers, earning $3 each time he crams 27 people on board.

As many as 200,000 have fled the city of 2 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development reported, citing a Haitian survey of bus stations and of sources in destination towns. At St. Marc, 40 miles (70 kilometers) to the north, most arrived with injuries from the quake, the U.S. agency said.

Now huddled with cousins in that dusty seaside town, Port-au-Prince refugee Daniel Dukenson said his nephew and sister, pulled from the family's fallen house after the quake, were recuperating.

"I'd like to go back," the 28-year-old computer teacher said. "But it's going to take a lot of time for Port-au-Prince to get back on its feet. Two years maybe."

The end of the road didn't always offer relief, however. At least 100,000 people may have fled farther north, to Gonaives, a city of 280,000 devastated by back-to-back hurricanes in 2008.

"We are working with authorities to discourage people from going to Gonaives," said Myrta Kaulard, country director of the U.N. World Food Program. "It is a very dangerous town and it is still partially destroyed from the hurricanes."

Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers and work crews have begun clearing a site at Croix-des-Bouquets, just northeast of Port-au-Prince, for what may become a tent city for 30,000 people, the International Organization for Migration said.

Six other sites have also been identified, but it will probably take weeks before the first camps accept Port-au-Prince's homeless, the group's spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy said in Geneva.

Such camps "cannot be built overnight," said the agency's Haiti mission chief, Vincent Houver. "There are standards that have to be designed by experts. There is the leveling of the land, procurement and delivery of tents, as well as water and sanitation."

Many quake victims may resist the voluntary resettlement, wary of moving farther from their wrecked homes and their possessions inside, or from relatives. But the need for shelter and security will likely prevail, Chauzy said, particularly as hurricane season approaches in June.

While plans were drafted for major relocations, scores of aid organizations, big and small, stepped up deliveries of food, water, medical supplies and other aid to the homeless and other needy of Port-au-Prince.

The WFP has distributed more than 1.4 million rations -- each containing three meals -- since the quake and is bringing in 16 million more. "We are planning to flood the country with food," Kaulard said.

The U.S. military, whose more than 2,000 troops on the ground have helped speed aid deliveries, reported steady progress overcoming obstacles that have slowed relief efforts, including in the outlying quake zone.

"Each day we are getting better and better and extending our reach to more and more of Haiti," said Army Col. Bill Buckner.

But obstacles remained to getting help into people's hands.

In the three miles (five kilometers) or so between Port-au-Prince and Carrefour, satellite images show 691 blockages on the road -- collapsed houses or other debris -- the U.N. reported. Aftershocks this week damaged a U.N. warehouse in the city, causing a loss of some 200 tons of food, USAID reported. Those same tremors forced medical staff and patients to abandon two hospitals in Port-au-Prince and one in Leogane because they were no longer safe, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said.

In just one day, however, the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort had made a difference. The giant white ship, which dropped anchor on Wednesday, had treated 932 patients and performed 32 surgeries by midday Thursday, USAID reported.

The world's nations have pledged almost $1 billion in relief aid, and more was on the way: Top-name international celebrities from film, music, sports and politics, from Beyonce to Leonardo DiCaprio, headlined a two-hour telethon Friday night to raise funds for Haiti.

On Saturday, the great grief of this devoutly religious nation will focus on one of its tens of thousands of dead, in an 8 a.m. funeral for Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, archbishop of Port-au-Prince, near the ruins of his cathedral.

(Mainichi Japan) January 23, 2010

Haiti to relocate 400,000 quake homeless

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Within days, the government will move 400,000 people made homeless by Haiti's epic earthquake from their squalid improvised camps throughout the shattered capital to new resettlement areas on the outskirts, a top Haitian official said Thursday.

Authorities are worried about sanitation and disease outbreaks in makeshift settlements like the one on the city's central Champs de Mars plaza, said Fritz Longchamp, chief of staff to President Rene Preval.

"The Champ de Mars is no place for 1,000 or 10,000 people," Longchamp told The Associated Press. "They are going to be going to places where they will have at least some adequate facilities."

He said buses would start moving the displaced people within a week to 10 days, once new camps are ready. Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers were already leveling land in the suburb of Croix des Bouquets for a new tent city, the Geneva-based intergovernmental International Organization for Migration reported Thursday.

The hundreds of thousands whose homes were destroyed in the Jan. 12 quake had settled in more than 200 open spaces around the city, the lucky ones securing tents for their families, but most having to make do living under the tropical sun on blankets, on plastic sheets or under tarpaulins strung between tree limbs.

The announcement came as search-and-rescue teams packed their dogs and gear Thursday, with hopes almost gone of finding any more alive in the ruins. The focus shifted to keeping injured survivors alive, fending off epidemics and getting help to the hundreds of homeless still suffering.

"We're so, so hungry," said Felicie Colin, 77, lying outside the ruins of her Port-au-Prince nursing home with dozens of other elderly residents who have hardly eaten since the earthquake hit on Jan. 12.

A melee erupted at one charity's food distribution point as people broke into the storehouse, ran off with food and fought each other over the bags.

As aftershocks still shook the city, aid workers were streaming into Haiti with water, food, drugs, latrines, clothing, trucks, construction equipment, telephones and tons of other relief supplies. The international Red Cross called it the greatest deployment of emergency responders in its 91-year history.

But the built-in bottlenecks of this desperately poor, underdeveloped nation and the sheer scale of the catastrophe still left many of the hundreds of thousands of victims without help. The U.S. military reported a waiting list of 1,400 international relief flights seeking to land on Port-au-Prince's single runway, where 120 to 140 flights were arriving daily.

"They don't see any food and water coming to them, and they are frustrated," said Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

Four ships managed to dock at the capital's earthquake-damaged port, holding out the promise of a new avenue for getting aid to the city. A Danish navy ship was seen unloading crates. But the going was slow, since only one truck at a time could maneuver on the crack-riven pier.

The picture was especially grim at emergency medical centers, where shortages of surgeons, nurses, their tools and supplies have backed up critical cases.

"A large number of those coming here are having to have amputations, since their wounds are so infected," said Brynjulf Ystgaard, a Norwegian surgeon at a Red Cross field hospital.

Food was reaching tens of thousands, but the need was much greater. Perhaps no one was more desperate than the 80 or so residents of the damaged Municipal Nursing Home, in a slum near the shell of Port-au-Prince's devastated cathedral. The quake killed six of the elderly, three others have since died of hunger and exhaustion, and several more were barely clinging to life.

"Nobody cares," said Phileas Justin, 78. "Maybe they do just want us to starve to death."

In the first eight days after the quake, they had eaten just a bit of pasta cooked in gutter water and a bowl of rice each. On Thursday, they had a small bowl of spaghetti and five bags of rice and beans, and cooking oil, were delivered.

A dirty red sheet covered the body of Jean-Marc Luis, who died late Wednesday. "He died of hunger," said security guard Nixon Plantin. On Thursday, four days after The Associated Press first reported on the patients' plight, workers from the British-based HelpAge International visited and said they would help.

One by one, such deaths were adding to a Haitian government-estimated toll of 200,000 dead, as reported by the European Commission. It said 250,000 people were injured and 2 million homeless in the nation of 9 million.

As U.S. troops began patrolling Port-au-Prince to boost security, sporadic looting and violence continued.

At a building in the Carrefour neighborhood where the multi-faith Eagle Wings Foundation of West Palm Beach, Florida, was to distribute food, quake victims from a nearby tent camp suddenly stormed the stores and made off with what the charity's Rev. Robert Nelson said were 50 tons of rice, oil, dried beans and salt. Fights broke out as others stole food from the looters.

At least 124 people were saved by search-and-rescue teams that worked tirelessly since soon after the quake, the European Commission reported. But as hopes faded Thursday, so long after untold numbers were trapped in the debris, some of the 1,700 specialists, working in four dozen teams with 160 dogs, began demobilizing.

Joe Downey, a fire battalion chief from an 80-member New York City police and firefighter unit, said this was the worst destruction his rescue team had ever seen.

"Katrina was bad," he said of the 2005 hurricane. "But this was a magnitude at least 100 times worse."

On Thursday, 18 hospitals and emergency field hospitals were working in Port-au-Prince. But the burden was overwhelming: Some quake victims have waited for a week for treatment, and patients were dying of sepsis from untreated wounds, according to Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders.

The Pan American Health Organization said hospitals need more orthopedic surgeons and nurses, more supplies, and better sanitation and water.

The Haitian government asked that mobile clinics be set up in all of the more than 280 sites where Port-au-Prince's now-homeless have resettled in tents or in the open air on blankets and plastic sheets.

Doctors warned, too, of potential outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory-tract infections and other communicable diseases among hundreds of thousands living in overcrowded camps with poor sanitation. A team of epidemiologists was on its way to assess that situation, the Pan American Health Organization said.

The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, which dropped anchor Wednesday outside Port-au-Prince harbor, should help significantly. It was reinforcing its crew to 800 doctors, nurses and medical technicians, increasing its hospital beds to almost 1,000, and boosting its operating rooms from six to 11 in the next few days, the Navy said.

The Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, taking over a small police port as a triage center, were helicoptering injured out to the Comfort on Thursday. "I'm hoping to get nearly 200 out today," said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Grabus, in charge of the landing zone where more than 30 choppers were in action.

Nervously waiting to be airlifted with her 1-year-old boy to the Comfort, Shamaelle Gelin, 22, said his fractured leg had gone untreated for a week and was badly infected. She was a "bit scared" about her first flight and shipboard experience, "but of course I'll stay with him," she said.

Almost $1 billion in foreign aid has been pledged to help Haiti recover from the quake, and the White House said the U.S. share has climbed to about $170 million.

The U.N. World Food Program said it has delivered at least 1 million rations to about 200,000 people, with each ration providing the equivalent of a daily three meals. In the coming days, it plans to deliver five-day rations to 100,000 people a day, it said. The U.S. military said it was resuming air drops of water and meals on parachute pallets into zones secured by U.S. troops.

On a hillside golf course overlooking Port-au-Prince, where a U.S. 82nd Airborne Division unit set up its aid base, a tent city of tens of thousands grew daily as word spread that the paratroopers were distributing food.

"They are coming from all over the city," said bookkeeper and camp resident Augustin Evans, 30. "They are coming because they are hungry."

Beyond the capital, closer to the quake's epicenter to the southwest, hundreds of Marines and Canadian troops were deploying around Leogane and Jacmel.

More than 2,600 U.S. soldiers, Marines and airmen were on the ground in Haiti, and more than 10,000 sailors and others were offshore. The number on the ground was expected to grow to 4,600 by the weekend.

In view of continuing looting and violence, American forces were expected to reinforce the long-established U.N. peacekeeping force here in escorting aid convoys. The U.N. was adding 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-member international force.

Haiti accepted an offer from the Dominican Republic to send 150 troops to help secure the crucial main road from the Dominican border to Port-au-Prince, the United Nations announced Thursday.

(Mainichi Japan) January 22, 2010

Haiti: life on the street facing hunger, despair

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Ancelot Jean didn't have much before the earthquake: a concrete house in a slum with a carpentry shop out back.

Now he has almost nothing. He lives with his wife, six children -- and thousands of other families -- in the Haitian capital's central plaza, the Champs de Mars. They cook meals on the sidewalk and hang clothes to dry on the gates of the crumbled presidential palace. Their only shade comes from a green umbrella.

"This is our home now," says his wife, Roselaine Dolce.

The family sleeps side by side for protection from thieves, among tents mostly populated by their homeless neighbors from the neighborhood known as Marche Solomon, a few blocks west.

Their Thursday began with first light around 6 a.m. in a sprawling plaza dotted with statues of Haiti's revolutionary heroes, by far the widest and one of the only open spaces in the severely overpopulated capital.

Roselaine's son from a previous marriage, 22-year-old Michel Lafleur, popped up from his cardboard mat and crossed the street to buy a cup of coffee for 5 gourdes -- about 13 cents. Jean would have liked a cup as well, but there wasn't money for two, so he just washed his face and said his morning prayers.

In fact, that morning cup of joe would be the last thing anyone consumed by afternoon.

Miraculously, all the children survived: Besides Michel, there were Roselaine's adopted daughter, 16-year-old Cresna, and Jean's children Jonathan, 14, and Clairemai, 11. The couple was also caring for 11-year-old Francia and 15-year-old Jenny, the orphaned children of Dolce's sister, who was killed with her husband when their house collapsed during a prayer meeting on the horrible afternoon of Jan. 12.

"Only God can give what happened a name. But sometimes we call it 'the big truck that went by,'" Jean says. "The big truck of death."

With no breakfast to be had, Dolce set about starting her wash for the day, in a plastic bucket filled with soap and water drawn from a fetid fountain nearby that was polluted with human waste. Most of the kids had only the clothes they were wearing when the earthquake struck.

For everyone else, there was not much to do but gossip and gawk. There was plenty to see. Some aftershocks hit, and bits of loose brick would fall off the smashed Haitian Army barracks, disused since exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the force in the 1990s.

"Jesus, Jesus," Dolce whispered each time the ground shook, closing her eyes and raising her palms.

To the left, U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne were setting up a checkpoint to clear a route to the nearby General Hospital, and young men gathered by their armored Humvees in case the Americans decided to hand out something.

To the right, sleek gray U.S. Navy helicopters took off and landed from the lawn of the collapsed presidential palace as hundreds pressed against the green gates to look on.

Jean and Dolce would be happy to work, but they lost all their equipment and appliances in the quake.

She used to sell vegetable juice for $1.25 a blender-full near the corner of Massillon Coicou and T. Brutus streets, not a great spot since the nearby medical school was the scene of constant rock and tear gas clashes between students and U.N. peacekeepers last year, but a decent business nonetheless. Her table and blender were destroyed when a wall fell on them during the quake.

As for Jean, he managed to salvage only a saw and sander from his workshop when the walls came down. That he made it out alive from the concrete warren where his broken five-room house sat is incredible enough, climbing out as buildings fell on friends around him.

He'd been putting the finishing touches on a cupboard he was going to sell for $320 when the quake struck. He lost the $143 in materials, plus the time he'd put in so far. For a family that is among the 50 percent of Haitians who get by on just $1 a day, that meant financial ruin.

Ladies in a blue-tarp tent nearby were cooking beans and vegetables for about $1.50, but that was far too much for the family budget. Jean waited instead for a carpenter friend to come by with a little cash, which he hoped would buy a can of rice, some salt fish, oil and a bouillon cube for Dolce to cook that evening.

As for the people in the nearby commercial district who were breaking into fallen stores to scramble for food, Jean wants nothing to do with that.

"I don't take part in those things. It's only God who can judge what they are doing, but I would not go down that road," he says.

His stepson Michel used to jog on the Champs de Mars, but now it's too crowded with tents to exercise. His school, where he was studying computers, was destroyed and he doesn't think he speaks enough English to join the sudden rush for jobs with the soldiers and even more omnipresent foreign news crews. So he wanders around and gets a shoe shine.

Sixteen-year-old Cresna goes to her cousins' tent a short walk away to get the news on what's happened during and since the earthquake. She also likes reciting psalms. The others mill about, taking advantage of the hot, slow tranquility of day before the darkness and suspicion of the night.

Nobody likes living here. It's hot and it smells bad, the ground is hard and the helicopters are loud. But nobody seems to even be thinking about heading back to their houses, if they even still exist, and Jean doesn't want to go back to the street where they spent that first sleepless night either. Too cramped for eight.

"I think there could be another catastrophe. A lot of buildings are tilted and could fall any time," says Jean-Brice Astrel, a radio journalist whose station, 91.3 Tropic FM, was wiped out along with its administrative director in the quake. He sent his kids to the countryside and sleeps on a sheet in the plaza as well, collecting tidbits for stories he can't broadcast.

The U.S. and French governments plan to bring in food, latrines and tents for 600 families by next week, but with thousands of displaced families living here, those will only go so far. The Haitian government plans to relocate 400,000 now living in city camps to temporary housing on the outskirts of the capital, Fritz Longchamp, chief of staff to President Rene Preval, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

"The Champ de Mars is no place for 1,000 or 10,000 people," Longchamp said. "They are going to be going to places where they will have at least some adequate facilities."

On Thursday, a local water truck pulled up and everyone ran to catch the plastic packets of water being chucked out for free. A U.S. soldier across the street put a big gun atop his Humvee and strapped on his helmet, eyeing the gathering crowd, but nothing happened and he sat back down.

The sun peaked high in the sky and the ground rumbled a bit.

"Jesus, Jesus," Dolce says. Her children surround her, and the family rests together on a low wall.

"I want everyone to be courageous. This is something we have never gone through before, but we'd better get used to it," she says as another helicopter shakes the trees. "We are going to be here for a while."

(Mainichi Japan) January 22, 2010

Aftershock drives more from Haitian capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- A frightening new aftershock Wednesday forced more earthquake survivors onto the capital's streets to live and sent others fleeing to the countryside, where aid was only beginning to reach wrecked towns.

A flotilla of rescue vessels, meanwhile, led by the U.S. hospital ship Comfort, converged on Port-au-Prince harbor to help fill gaps in still-lagging global efforts to deliver water, food and medical help. Hundreds of thousands of survivors of Haiti's cataclysmic earthquake were living in makeshift tents or on blankets and plastic sheets under the tropical sun.

The strongest tremor since the Jan. 12 quake struck at 6:03 a.m., just before sunrise while many still slept. From the teeming plaza near the collapsed presidential palace to a hillside tent city, the 5.9-magnitude aftershock lasted only seconds but panicked thousands of Haitians.

"Jesus!" they cried as rubble tumbled and dust rose anew from government buildings around the plaza. Parents gathered up children and ran.

Up in the hills, where U.S. troops were helping thousands of homeless, people bolted screaming from their tents. Jajoute Ricardo, 24, came running from his house, fearing its collapse.

"Nobody will go to their house now," he said, as he sought a tent of his own. "It is chaos, for real."

A slow vibration intensified into side-to-side shaking that lasted about eight seconds -- compared to last week's far stronger initial quake that seemed to go on for 30 seconds and registered 7.0 magnitude.

Throngs again sought out small, ramshackle "tap-tap" buses to take them away from the city. On Port-au-Prince's beaches, more than 20,000 people looked for boats to carry them down the coast, the local Signal FM radio reported.

But the desperation may be deeper outside the capital, closer to last week's quake epicenter.

"We're waiting for food, for water, for anything," Emmanuel Doris-Cherie, 32, said in Leogane, 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince. Homeless in Leogane lived under sheets draped across tree branches, and the damaged hospital "lacks everything," Red Cross surgeon Hassan Nasreddine said.

Hundreds of Canadian soldiers and sailors were deploying to that town and to Jacmel on the south coast to support relief efforts, and the Haitian government sent a plane and an overland team to assess needs in Petit-Goave, a seaside town 10 miles (15 kilometers) farther west from Leogane that was the epicenter of Wednesday's aftershock.

The death toll was estimated at 200,000, according to Haitian government figures relayed by the European Commission, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. The commission raised its estimate of homeless to 2 million, from 1.5 million, and said 250,000 people needed urgent aid.

With search dogs and detection gear, U.S. and other rescue teams worked into Wednesday night in hopes of finding buried survivors. But hopes were dimming.

"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and each day the needles are disappearing," said Steven Chin of the Los Angeles County rescue team.

One rescue was reported. The International Medical Corps (IMC) said it cared for a child found in quake ruins on Wednesday. The boy's uncle told doctors and a nurse with the Los Angeles-based organization that relatives pulled the 5-year-old from the wreckage of his home after searching for a week, said Margaret Aguirre, an IMC spokeswoman in Haiti.

Family members working to recover a body said they heard a voice saying, "I'm here, I'm here," Aguirre recounted.

The boy was dehydrated, drinking four bottles of water and two juices, but otherwise unharmed, she said.

Many badly injured Haitians still awaited lifesaving surgery.

"It is like working in a war situation," said Rosa Crestani of Doctors Without Borders at the Choscal Hospital. "We don't have any morphine to manage pain for our patients."

The damaged hospitals and emergency medical centers set up in Port-au-Prince needed surgeons, fuel for generators, oxygen and countless other kinds of medical supplies, aid groups said.

Dr. Evan Lyon, of the U.S.-based Partners in Health, messaged from the central University Hospital that the facility was within 24 hours of running out of key operating room supplies. Wednesday's aftershock was yet another blow: Surgical teams and patients were forced to evacuate temporarily.

Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division were providing security at the hospital. A helicopter landing pad was designated nearby for airlifting the most critical patients to the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort.

The great white ship, 894 feet (272 meters) long, with a medical staff of 550, was anchored in Port-au-Prince harbor and had taken aboard its first two surgical patients by helicopter late Tuesday even as it was steaming in.

It joined the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and other U.S. warships offshore, along with the French landing craft Francis Garnier, which carried a medical team, hundreds of tents and other aid.

The Garnier offloaded pallets of bottled water and prepared meals at the city's quake-damaged port, while U.S. Army divers surveyed the soundness of the main pier, where trucks drove only on the edges because of damage down its center.

The seaborne rescue fleet will soon be reinforced by the Spanish ship Castilla, with 50 doctors and 450 troops, and by three other U.S.-based Navy vessels diverted from a scheduled Middle East mission. Canadian warships were already in Haitian waters, and an Italian aircraft carrier, the Cavour, also will join the flotilla with medical teams and engineers.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said at U.N. headquarters in New York that it's believed that 3 million people are affected, with 2 million of those needing food for at least six months.

Between the U.N. World Food Program and deliveries by the Red Cross and other private aid groups, about a half-million Haitians should have been reached with "reasonable quantities of food," he said. "That's still very far short of what's needed."

At the hillside tent camp, set up on a golf course where an 82nd Airborne unit has its base, the lines of hungry and thirsty stretched downhill and out of sight as paratroopers handed out bottled water and ready-to-eat meals as fast as helicopters brought them in.

In one sign of normalcy, women carried baskets of cauliflower, sweet potatoes and sugar cane into the city from farms in the hills. Some food and water was on sale in Port-au-Prince's markets, but prices had skyrocketed.

"We need money, man. I don't have enough to buy anything," said Ricardo, the newly homeless man who was seeking work and food, as well as a tent, at the golf course encampment.

Looking over the food lines there, 82nd Airborne Capt. John Hartsock said, "This is the first time I've seen it this orderly."

President Rene Preval stressed the relative quiet prevailing over much of Port-au-Prince. People understand, he told French radio, "it is through calmness (and) an even more organized solidarity that we're going to get out of this."

Concerns still persisted that looting and violence that flared up in pockets in recent days could spread. In downtown Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, dozens of men, women and children clambered over the rubble of a department store, hauling off clocks, lamps, towels, even women's hair extensions. Police stood nearby, not intervening.

The European Commission's report described the security situation as "deteriorating."

U.S. troops -- some 11,500 soldiers, Marines and sailors onshore and offshore as of Wednesday and expected to total 16,000 by the weekend -- were seen slowly ratcheting up control over parts of the city. Marine reinforcements were to help escort aid deliveries. One unescorted truck was seen screeching off Wednesday when a crowd grew unruly as its tents were being distributed.

The U.N. was adding 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-member international force. That plan suffered a setback when Haiti -- with historically tense relations with the neighboring Dominican Republic -- rejected a Dominican offer of an 800-strong battalion, according to a Western diplomat at the U.N., speaking on condition of anonymity in the absence of a public announcement.

Other small signs of normalcy rippled over Port-au-Prince: Street vendors had found flowers to sell to those wishing to honor their dead. One or two money transfer agencies reopened to receive wired money from Haitians abroad. Officials said banks would open later this week.

But Wednesday's aftershock, the stench of the lingering dead, and the tears and upstretched hands of helpless Haitians made clear that the country's tragedy will continue for months and years as this poor land counts and remembers its losses.

After the tremor's dust settled Wednesday, street merchant Marie-Jose Decosse walked past the partly collapsed St. Francois de Salles Hospital in Carrefour Feuille, one of the worst-hit sections of town. She raised her arms to the sky, and spoke for millions.

"Lord have mercy, for we are sinners!" she shouted. "Please have mercy on Haiti."

(Mainichi Japan) January 21, 2010

Survivor recounts 5 days trapped in the rubble

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Trapped for five days in the rubble of a hospital, nailed to the floor by the leg of a bunk bed, the 23-year-old carpenter played his life over in his mind and dreamt how he would live it differently if a miracle set him free.

"I kept thinking, what a pity to leave so early, with so little accomplished," Benito Revolus said, that miracle now a reality.

Despite a severely infected leg, a punctured lung and numerous gashes and bruises, Revolus' smile grew ever wider as he recounted his story, lying on the lawn of the damaged headquarters of Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders, a French aid group.

"Sometimes, I still can't believe I'm here," Revolus said.

Revolus was being treated for a stab wound at another hospital and was lying in the middle of a three-level bunk bed when the earthquake hit Jan. 12, killing an estimated 200,000.

"I thought it was the end. The ceiling collapsed before I even understood what happened," Revolus said. Others in the room fled, but he couldn't because the top section of his bed collapsed on him, piercing through his left thigh and pinning him to the ground.

But the top bunk also provided the breathing space that kept him alive -- leaving him just enough to turn his chest around when the pain became unbearable.

Doctors typically consider three days the maximum time a seriously injured person losing blood can survive underground. But Revolus spent five days under several feet of rubble, with nothing to drink or eat. "I got so, so hungry," he said, smiling again.

"That Benito got out of there was unusual," said Susan Shepherd of New York, the MSF coordinator in Haiti. "He's a lucky guy."

Revolus wasn't so surprised. "I never completely lost hope," he said, though he acknowledged it was very difficult to remain optimistic when his shouts drew no response. And he knew that having no other survivors with him diminished his chances of rescue.

With nothing else to do, Revolus spent his lonely vigil praying and reflecting on his life. "I thought about how sad my mum must be because of me," he said, adding he was certain he felt her prayers.

He also did an accounting of his good and bad deeds.

"I asked God to free me, and I promised him I wouldn't waste my second chance," said Revolus, who had initially been hospitalized after being stabbed in a fight over money.

His first step would be to forgive all old scores, he said, and then he pledged to "never play at the lottery again."

Revolus said tiny cracks in the debris helped him track the days, allowing him some idea of whether the sun was out or not.

He said it was just after dawn on the fifth day, Saturday, that God answered his prayers, and probably his mother's as well.

"I heard three taps from a hammer," he said, showing how he took a stone to tap back three times.

For the rest of the day, he heard a jackhammer, circular saws and pliers working. About 4 p.m., he heard a foreigner say in broken French: "My friend, I'm here with other friends, and we're going to get you out."

Five minutes later, someone lifted a slab above him and Revolus felt a rush of warm tropical light from Haiti's late afternoon sun.

"Then I saw a human face. It was a young white man, grinning," Revolus said. "He said, 'Good afternoon,' and I answered, 'Thank you. Thank you.'"

He described the rescue team as American, with bright yellow uniforms and plastic helmets. The team began applauding, aware that finding someone alive so late in the rescue effort was a small miracle.

Since Saturday, a handful of others have been pulled out alive, including 69-year-old Ena Zizi, who was rescued from the Roman Catholic compound and flown to the Dominican Republic for treatment on Tuesday. One of the last confirmed rescues was overnight Tuesday, when Lozama Hotteline, 26, was pulled from a supermarket in midtown Port-au-Prince, smiling and singing hymns.

A Taiwanese team of rescuers was still busy Wednesday at a gas station where they had located two people alive the day before. But it rained overnight and a magnitude-5.9 tremor shook the Haitian capital in the morning. All this has made the debris more compact, said Dr. Yi Ting Tsai. The two survivors believed inside weren't giving any sign of life Wednesday, he said.

Revolus knows he's "unbelievably lucky" to have been dragged out. Once he can walk again, he hopes to be able to travel to the United States to meet the firefighters who saved him.

"I'd like to visit them to say thank you," Revolus said. "And maybe they can also help me get a visa to live in America."

(Mainichi Japan) January 21, 2010

Americans rush to adopt orphaned Haitian children

MIAMI (AP) -- Tammy Gage cries every time she turns on the TV and sees the devastation in Haiti. And though she already has three daughters, she didn't hesitate when her husband suggested that they adopt from Haiti.

"That's all he needed to say," she said.

Gage and her husband Brad are among many Americans expressing interest in adopting children who have been left orphans from the quake last week. Adoption advocacy groups are reporting dozens of calls a day.

"The agencies are being flooded with phone calls and e-mails," said Tom Difilipo, president and CEO of the advocacy group Joint Council on International Children's Services. "The response is 'Can we help with these children by adopting them?'"

The need is vast. Even before Tuesday's deadly magnitude-7.0 earthquake, Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, had 380,000 orphans, according to UNICEF. There is no counting children newly orphaned by the quake, but aid groups estimate the number in tens of thousands.

"Everybody here and in the world wants to do something. I think it's a way that people are opening up their heads and their hearts," said Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami, which has offered temporary housing for children until they are either placed with extended family, put in foster care or adopted.

This week, 54 orphans arrived in Pittsburgh after a mission that involved officials in the White House, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. The orphans will be given medical care and be placed in group homes until their adoptions are finalized.

"We have received quite a few phone calls, including one from as far away as Alaska," said Clare Kushma, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. She estimated the number of calls as close to 100, but is referring people to the Allegheny County's Department of Human Services for adoptions.

The road to adoption is a long one, Difilipo said. Most of the orphans who have been brought the U.S. so far were already in the process of being adopted.

Before new adoptions can occur, officials need to establish that the children are identified by the Haitian government as orphans; there have been reports of families selling their children to adoption brokers. And potential families need to be cleared, too.

"All this is a 2-year process minimum," he said. "Some families have waited five years."

New solutions may be enacted for these orphans, though, said Mary Robinson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption. Her advocacy group has gotten an offer from Puerto Rico to serve as a resting place for children until they are adopted.

State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said the orphans are one of the highest priorities for the U.S. government.

"We are looking at each and every orphan case individually and we are working around the clock with officials of both Homeland Security and the Haitian government to find solutions," he said.

He said the U.S. Embassy in Haiti has processed immigrant visas for 46 orphan children whose cases were ready for processing. In addition there have been 100 humanitarian waivers for more than 100 orphans.

Gage, 38, of Missouri, said her oldest daughter texted her the phone number of the National Council for Adoption while on the school bus. The family knows that adoption can take a long time, but plans to stick it out.

"Of course the sooner, the better, but I know kind of the process," she said.

Gage and her husband Brad had discussed adopting before, but she was moved by the devastation in Haiti. "Really, I wanted to get on the next flight out and help these people," she said.

UNICEF will now work to find children who are alone and determine whether they are orphans or have become separated from family, spokesman Patrick McCormick said. If they have relatives, the agency will work to reunite them. Alternative and longterm options such as international adoption would be an option only after that, New York-based UNICEF spokesman Patrick McCormick.

All this requires detective work, but it should be done within two months, he said.

Sheila Noel, 36, of Miami, who is from Haiti, says that she called an advocacy group inquiring how she could adopt her 13-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister, who are now being cared for by a friend. Noel said her mother and stepfather were killed in the quake and two more brothers remain missing.

"Right now the little ones I am really concerned about," she said. She said her siblings were sleeping in parks and she was worried about violence.

"There is no police," she said. "There is nobody you can go to."

(Mainichi Japan) January 21, 2010

Haitians can start applying Thurs. to stay in U.S.

MIAMI (AP) -- Haitians are so eager for information about a federal designation that will let illegal immigrants work temporarily in the U.S., they bombarded a Catholic church here even though the program doesn't start until Thursday.

More than 1,000 Haitians lined up this week outside the Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood to ask questions about how to apply for temporary protected status. Some were told to come back the following day. Others have showed up at immigration law offices and community centers elsewhere in Florida as well as New York and New Jersey.

Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas said only those who were in the U.S. on the day of the earthquake or before it struck would will be eligible, and he warned that early applications would be delayed.

"I want a driver's license," said Fritznel Monneus, 34, who left a hurricane-ravaged Haiti in November 2008. "I want TPS. I want an ID. I want to be working right now."

Randy McGrorty, head of Catholic Charities Legal Services, fielded questions at the Miami church, mostly in Creole. He told some that family members wouldn't be able come from Haiti and seek the status, and that applicants likely wouldn't qualify for college financial aid. Generally, government benefits aren't available for those with the temporary status.

Some also asked whether they could get help paying the filing fees up to $470, including employment authorization. McGrorty said a fee waiver was available, though he discouraged it because it could delay an application.

Although the government has cautioned the protection is temporary -- 18 months -- some of those applying hoped it would lead to a longer reprieve. Immigrants from Central American countries have had the designation for more than a decade after a hurricane.

Applicants must prove their Haitian citizenship as well as their residence in the U.S. before the earthquake struck Jan. 12. Advocates urged people to collect rent receipts, utility bills, employment records and medical records to show they lived here.

Rex Chen, managing attorney at Catholic Charities in Newark, New Jersey, said he warned Haitians against potential scam artists that may falsely advertise TPS papers for a fee.

"A number of Haitian Americans are devastated by the disaster and they may not feel it's time to think about themselves," Chen said. "Unfortunately, they need to start thinking about themselves in the next six months, even if all they want to think about is helping those in Haiti."

Haitian President Rene Preval asked twice in 2008 for the U.S. to grant the temporary status, including after four consecutive hurricanes and tropical storms devastated a country already reeling from previous storm damage, food riots and spiking fuel prices. Those requests were denied.

U.S. officials have said they expect about 100,000 to 200,000 applications. However, Haitian community advocates in Miami believe the number of applicants will be closer to 30,000.

Allan Pierre, 29, of Miami, came to ask questions for friends who are here illegally and were afraid of being deported if they showed up.

"A lot of them were scared to come because they don't know what's going on, but I have a green card, so they can't do nothing to me," Pierre said.

Like many Haitians in the U.S., Pierre and his friends lost relatives in the earthquake. "They don't have a home no more in Haiti," Pierre said. "If they're able to be here, even temporarily, but legally, that's a big help."

About 350,000 people from five Central American and African countries are considered eligible for TPS, though not all may have it.

The agency's Web site, www.uscis.gov, has information in English, French and Creole.

(Mainichi Japan) January 20, 2010

Crews pull more Haiti quake survivors from ruins

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- A 69-year-old ardent Roman Catholic who said she prayed constantly during her week under the rubble was among the unlikely survivors of the epic Haitian earthquake.

One full week after the magnitude-7 quake killed an estimated 200,000, left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless, search-and-rescue teams were emerging from the ruins with improbable success stories. Experts have said that without water, buried quake victims were unlikely to survive beyond three days.

Ena Zizi had been at a church meeting at the residence of Haiti's Roman Catholic archbishop when the quake struck, trapping her in debris. On Tuesday, she was rescued by a Mexican disaster team that was created in the wake of Mexico City's 1985 earthquake.

Zizi said that after the quake, she spoke back and forth with a vicar who also was trapped. But after a few days, he fell silent, and she spent the rest of the time praying and waiting.

"I talked only to my boss, God," she said. "And I didn't need any more humans."

Doctors who examined Zizi on Tuesday said she was dehydrated and had a dislocated hip and a broken leg.

"I'm all right, sort of," she said, lying on a foil thermal blanket outside the Cuban hospital, her gray hair covered in white dust.

Elsewhere in the capital, two women were pulled from a destroyed university building. And near midnight Tuesday, a smiling and singing 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried to safety from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighborhood by the French aid group Rescuers Without Borders.

Crews at the cathedral compound site Tuesday managed to recover the body of the archbishop, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in the Jan. 12 quake.

Authorities said close to 100 people had been pulled from wrecked buildings by international search-and-rescue teams. Efforts continued, with dozens of teams sifting through Port-au-Prince's crumbled homes and buildings for signs of life.

But the good news was overshadowed by the frustrating fact that the world still can't get enough food and water to the hungry and thirsty.

"We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don't know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon," said Sophia Eltime, a 29-year-old mother of two who has been living under a bedsheet with seven members of her extended family.

The World Food Program said more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations had been distributed in Haiti by Tuesday, reaching only a fraction of the 3 million people thought to be in desperate need. There have been anecdotal reports of starvation among the old and infirm, but apparently no widespread starvation yet.

The WFP said it needs to deliver 100 million ready-to-eat rations in the next 30 days. Based on pledges from the United States, Italy and Denmark, it has 16 million in the pipeline.

Even as U.S. troops landed in Seahawk helicopters Tuesday on the manicured lawn of the ruined National Palace, the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster and the limitations of the world's governments. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.

So far, international relief efforts have been unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. Doctors Without Borders says a plane carrying urgently needed surgical equipment and drugs has been turned away five times, even though the agency received advance authorization to land.

A statement from Partners in Health, co-founded by the deputy U.N. envoy to Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, said the group's medical director estimated 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery. No details were provided on how the figure was determined.


The reasons are varied:

-- Both national and international authorities suffered great losses in the quake, taking out many of the leaders best suited to organize a response.

-- Woefully inadequate infrastructure and a near-complete failure in telephone and Internet communications complicate efforts to reach millions of people forced from homes turned into piles of rubble.

-- Fears of looting and violence keep aid groups and governments from moving as quickly as they'd like.

-- Pre-existing poverty and malnutrition put some at risk even before the quake hit.

Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic. The nonfunctioning seaport and impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.

Aid is being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it had raised the facility's daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180 on Tuesday.

About 2,200 U.S. Marines established a beachhead west of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday to help speed aid delivery, in addition to 9,000 Army soldiers already on the ground. Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said helicopters were ferrying aid from the airport into Port-au-Prince and the nearby town of Jacmel as fast as they could.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that the military will send a port-clearing ship with cranes aboard to Port-au-Prince. It will be used to remove debris that is preventing many larger ships carrying relief supplies from docking, and it could help get the port back in operation within a week or two, Gates said.

The U.N. was sending in reinforcements as well: The Security Council voted Tuesday to add 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-strong international force.

"The floodgates for aid are starting to open," Matthews said at the airport. "In the first few days, you're limited by manpower, but we're starting to bring people in."

The WFP's Alain Jaffre said the U.N. agency was starting to find its stride after distribution problems, and hoped to help 100,000 people by Wednesday.

Hanging over the entire effort was an overwhelming fear among relief officials that Haitians' desperation would boil over into violence.

"We've very concerned about the level of security we need around our people when we're doing distributions," said Graham Tardif, who heads disaster-relief efforts for the charity World Vision. The U.N., the U.S. government and other organizations echoed such fears.

Occasionally, those fears have been borne out. Looters rampaged through part of downtown Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, just four blocks from where U.S. troops landed at the presidential palace.

Hundreds of looters fought over bolts of cloth and other goods with broken bottles and clubs.

"That is how it is. There is nothing we can do," said Haitian police officer Arina Bence, who was trying to keep civilians out of the looting zone for their own safety.

Haitian Police Chief Mario Andersol said he could muster only 2,000 of the 4,500 officers in the capital and said even they "are not trained to deal with this kind of situation."

(Mainichi Japan) January 20, 2010

New tech tools help Haiti quake relief

Hundreds of tech volunteers spurred to action by Haiti's killer quake are adding a new dimension to disaster relief, developing new tools and services for first responders and the public in an unprecedented effort.

"It really is amazing the change in the way crisis response can be done now," said Noel Dickover, a Washington, D.C.-based organizer of the CrisisCamp tech volunteer movement, which is central to the Haiti effort. "Developers, crisis mappers and even Internet-savvy folks can actually make a difference."

Volunteers have built and refined software for tracking missing people, mapping the disaster area and enabling urgent cell phone text messaging. Organizations including the International Red Cross, the United Nations, the World Bank and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency have put the systems to use.

Tim Schwartz, a 28-year-old artist and programmer in San Diego, feared upon learning of the disaster that, with an array of social-networking sites active, crucial information about Haitian quake victims would "go everywhere on the Internet and it would be very hard to actually find people -- and get back to their loved ones," he said. So Schwartz quickly e-mailed "all the developers I'd ever worked with."

In a few hours, he and 10 others had built www.haitianquake.com, an online lost-and-found to help Haitians in and out of the country locate missing relatives.

The database, which anyone can update, was online less than 24 hours after the quake struck, with more than 6,000 entries because Schwartz and his colleagues wrote an "scraper" that gathered data from a Red Cross site.

The New York Times, Miami Herald, CNN and others launched similar efforts. And two days later, Google had a similar tool running, PersonFinder, that the State Department promoted on its own Web site and Twitter. PersonFinder grew out of missing-persons technology developed after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005.

Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, director of the Center for Future Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, advocated online for consolidating all such tools into the Google version so the information wouldn't be stuck in competing projects.

He considers PersonFinder, which can be embedded in any Web site and as of Tuesday had more than 32,000 records, a triumph because it "greatly increases the chances that Haitians in Haiti and abroad will be able to find each other."

Schwartz agreed and folded his database into PersonFinder, which he thinks will become "THE application for missing people for this disaster and all disasters in the future."

The site has received several hundred thousand visits, said Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo. She had no data on how many people had found loved ones using the tool.

Another volunteer project forged in the quake's aftermath is a cell phone text-messaging system that has helped the U.N., Red Cross and other relief groups dispatch rescuers, food and water. Haitians needing help can send free text messages from phones on the nation's Digicel service to the number 4636.

"At least 20 people so far have been able to use this program to tell their families in the U.S. that they're OK," said Katie Stanton, a former Google employee working in the State Department's Office of Innovation.

The text messages are translated, categorized and "geotagged" by volunteers including Haitian-American members of the New York City-based Service Employees International Union. The service is being promoted on Haitian radio stations and the service has handled more than 1,000 messages since it began Saturday, said Josh Nesbit, a co-creator. He put together a similar system for hospitals in Malawi, Africa, while at Stanford University.

Chief executive Eric Rasmussen of InSTEDD, a small humanitarian nonprofit that helped develop it, said by phone from the tarmac of Haiti's airport Tuesday that U.N. search-and-rescue dispatchers were at that moment mobilizing to locate a woman eight months pregnant in distress with an infection who had sent an SOS message using the system.

In another collaborative effort, the OpenStreetMap "crisis mapping" project, volunteers layer up-to-the-minute data (such as the location of new field hospitals and downed bridges) onto post-quake satellite imagery that companies including GeoEye and DigitalGlobe have made freely available. The digital cartography -- informed by everything from Twitter feeds to eyewitness reports -- has helped aid workers speed food, water and medicine to where it's needed most.

One Colombian rescue team leader uploaded the maps to his crew's portable GPS units before the team arrived on the scene last week, developers said. Another volunteer, Talbot Brooks of Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., converts the maps into letter-sized documents that aid workers have been printing out before traveling to the quake zone.

"We have already been using their data in our initial post-disaster needs assessment," said Stuart Gill of the World Bank.

Internet social networks have helped volunteers organize intense work sessions.

CrisisCamp drew some 400 people in six cities including Washington, London and Mountain View, Calif., over the weekend to meet-ups where they devised, built and helped refine tools. Among them: a basic Creole-English dictionary for the iPhone that was delivered to Apple on Monday night for its approval.

"There was no break for lunch and people barely used the bathroom," said Clay Johnson of the Sunlight Foundation, the government transparency-promoting tech nonprofit that hosted the 130 participants in the Washington session. U.N., State Department and World Bank representatives attended.

Johnson also is the coordinator for "We Have, We Need," a project that was hatched in the CrisisCamp session and is about to be launched. It seeks to pair private-sector offers with needs identified by aid workers. For example, a Haitian Internet provider needs networking engineers to restore connectivity. Any volunteers willing to spend a few weeks in Port-au-Prince?

More CrisisCamps are planned this weekend in Northern California, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Atlanta, Brooklyn, N.Y., Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles.

A week after the quake, many tech relief volunteers are still working full steam.

"These people have been awake for days," Csikszentmihalyi said.

(Mainichi Japan) January 20, 2010

Help steps up, but so does scale of Haiti tragedy

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- The staggering scope of Haiti's nightmare came into sharper focus Monday as authorities estimated 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless in the quake-ravaged heart of this tragic land, where injured survivors still died in the streets, doctors pleaded for help and looters slashed at one another in the rubble.

The world pledged more money, food, medicine and police. Some 2,000 U.S. Marines steamed into nearby waters. And ex-president Bill Clinton, special U.N. envoy, flew in to offer support. Six days after the earthquake struck, search teams still pulled buried survivors from the ruins.

But hour by hour the unmet needs of hundreds of thousands grew.

Overwhelmed surgeons appealed for anesthetics, scalpels, saws for cutting off crushed limbs. Uncounted hundreds of survivors sought to cram onto buses headed out of town. In downtown streets, others begged for basics.

"Have we been abandoned? Where is the food?" shouted one man, Jean Michel Jeantet.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said it expected to boost operations from feeding 67,000 people on Sunday to 97,000 on Monday. But it needs 100 million prepared meals over the next 30 days, and it appealed for more government donations.

"I know that aid cannot come soon enough," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York after returning from Haiti.

"Unplug the bottlenecks," he urged.

In one step to reassure frustrated aid groups, the U.S. military agreed to give aid deliveries priority over military flights at the now-U.S.-run airport here, the WFP announced in Rome. The Americans' handling of civilian flights had angered some humanitarian officials.

Looting and violence flared again Monday, as hundreds clambered over the broken walls of shops to grab anything they could -- including toothpaste, now valuable for lining nostrils against the stench of Port-au-Prince's dead. Police fired into the air as young men fought each other over rum and beer with broken bottles and machetes.

Hard-pressed medical teams sometimes had to take time away from quake victims to deal with gunshot wounds, said Loris de Filippi of Doctors Without Borders. In the Montrissant neighborhood, Red Cross doctors working in shipping containers and saying they "cannot cope" lost 50 patients over two days, said international Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno.

Amid the debris and the smoke of bodies being burned, dozens of international rescue teams dug on in search of buried survivors. And on Monday afternoon, some 140 hours after the quake, they pulled two Haitian women alive from a collapsed university building. At a destroyed downtown bank, another team believed it was just hours from saving a trapped employee.

The latest casualty report, from the European Commission citing Haitian government figures, doubled previous estimates of the dead from the magnitude-7.0 quake, to approximately 200,000, with some 70,000 bodies recovered and trucked off to mass graves.

If accurate, that would make Haiti's catastrophe about as deadly as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed an estimated 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

European Commission analysts estimate 250,000 were injured and 1.5 million were made homeless. Masses are living under plastic sheets in makeshift camps and in dust-covered automobiles, or had taken to the road seeking out relatives in the safer countryside.

On the capital's southern edge, hundreds of people struggled to get onto brightly painted "tap-tap" buses heading out of town.

"We've got no more food and no more house, so leaving is the only thing to do," said Livena Livel, 22, fleeing with her 1-year-old daughter and six other relatives to her father's house in Les Cayes, near Haiti's western tip.

"At least over there we can farm for food," she said.

She said she was spending her last cash on the "insanely expensive" bus fare, jacked up to the equivalent of $7.70, three days' pay for most Haitians, because gasoline prices had doubled.

The European Union and its individual governments boosted their aid pledges for Haiti to $606 million in emergency and long-term aid, on top of at least $100 million pledged by the U.S.

A dirt-poor nation long at the bottom of the heap, Haiti will need years or decades of expanded aid to rebuild. After meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval and other international representatives in the neighboring Dominican Republic, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said Haiti would need $10 billion over five years.

For the moment, however, front-line relief workers want simply to get food and water to the hungry and thirsty.

The U.N. humanitarian chief, John Holmes, said in New York not all 15 planned U.N. food distribution points were up and running yet. "That's a question of people, trucks, fuel, but the aid is scaling up very rapidly," he said.

The priorities are clearing roads, ensuring security at U.N. distribution points, getting this city's seaport working again and bringing in more trucks and helicopters, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in Rome.

Evidence of the shortfall could be found at a makeshift camp of 50,000 displaced people spread over a hillside golf course overlooking the city. Leaders there said a U.S. 82nd Airborne Division unit had been able to deliver food to only half the people.

The 1,700 U.S. troops on the ground in Port-au-Prince were to be reinforced by 2,000 Marines expected Monday off Haiti's shores aboard three amphibious landing ships. Other U.S. help was on the way, including two U.S. civilian crane ships that could unload cargo at the quake-damaged port.

Getting clean water into people's hands was still a dire concern.

"People can survive a few days without food but we must try to avoid major outbreaks of waterborne disease," said Brian Feagans, a spokesman for the aid group CARE.

Clinton and accompanying daughter Chelsea pitched in, helping unload cases of bottled water from their plane to a U.N. truck.

Some aid groups and foreign officials have blamed the U.S. military for slowing down aid deliveries, saying the American units that took charge of the small Port-au-Prince airport last week gave priority to U.S. military flights.

Doctors Without Borders said Monday its specialists were 48 hours behind on performing surgery for critically injured patients because three cargo planes loaded with supplies were denied clearance and forced to land almost 200 miles away in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The WFP's Sheeran said things would change. She announced an agreement with the U.S. so that "we now have the coordination mechanism to prioritize the humanitarian flights coming in."

At the airport, a U.S. military spokesman said the parking ramp designed for 16 large aircraft at times was holding 40. "That's why there was gridlock," said Navy Cmdr. Chris Lounderman. He said about 100 flights a day were now landing.

There remained a "huge demand for lifesaving surgery for those who suffered terrible injuries," Doctors Without Borders reported. The U.S.-based Partners in Health, coordinating aid at Port-au-Prince's central hospital, reported "a desperate need for all the resources required to run a hospital," including surgical instruments, anesthesia gear, alcohol, sutures, and saws.

More than 1,000 patients awaited surgery at the hospital, it said. Right outside the U.S.-run airport, one man died as Navy helicopters scrambled to evacuate patients to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the military reported.

Across the city, thousands of abandoned bodies had been picked up by government crews, but residents dragged still others to crossroads, hoping municipal garbage trucks or aid groups would deal with them.

Looting and violence added to the casualties. Riot police opened fire -- mostly in the air -- to break up a mob of several hundred fighting over rum bottles in a burning shop. One teenage boy was hit in the thigh by a shotgun blast. "Friends! Save me! Save me!" he cried, curled up in a pool of blood, one foot almost severed. A medical aid truck happened by and picked him up.

The ranks of Haitian police and U.N. peacekeepers trying to restore order in this stricken city had themselves been decimated in the quake, which destroyed the U.N. headquarters.

In New York on Monday, U.N. chief Ban asked for 1,500 more U.N. police and 2,000 more peacekeepers to join the 9,000 or so U.N. security personnel in Haiti. Alain Le Roy, the U.N. peacekeeping chief, said a "tremendous" number of requests had come in to escort humanitarian convoys. Haitian police had returned to the streets in only "limited numbers," he said.

The Security Council was expected to approve the reinforcements on Wednesday.

(Mainichi Japan) January 19, 2010

Haitians seeking US refuge will be returned

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. authorities are readying for a potential influx of Haitians seeking to escape their earthquake-wracked nation, even though the policy for migrants remains the same: with few exceptions, they will go back.

So far, fears of a mass migration have yet to materialize. However, conditions in Haiti become more dire each day and U.S. officials don't want to be caught off guard.

Between 250 and 400 immigration detainees are being moved from South Florida's main detention center to clear space for any Haitians who manage to reach U.S. shores, according to the Homeland Security Department. The Navy base at Guantanamo Bay could house migrants temporarily -- far from suspected terrorists also being held there -- and the Catholic church is working on a plan to accept Haitian orphans.

Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said Monday that orphans who have ties to the U.S. -- such as a family member already living here -- and Haitians evacuated for medical reasons are among those who can gain special permission to remain in the U.S.

The mass migration plan, known as "Operation Vigilant Sentry," was put in place in 2003 because of previous experiences with Caribbean migrations, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, spokesman for the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast that would manage any Haitian influx.

The message was underscored by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a weekend appearance at Homestead Air Reserve Base south of Miami, a key staging area for Haiti relief flights.

"This is a very dangerous crossing. Lives are lost every time people try to make this crossing," Napolitano said, addressing Haitians directly. "Please do not have us divert our necessary rescue and relief efforts that are going into Haiti by trying to leave at this point."

Some immigration advocates say the U.S. should shift away from stopping migrants and ease safe passage. They say those on approved waiting lists should be able to join spouses or relatives in the U.S.

The Obama administration's decision last week to grant temporary protected status to Haitians in the U.S. illegally as of Jan. 12 does not extend to those attempting to enter the U.S. after that date.

So far this year, the Coast Guard has intercepted 17 Haitians at sea, all before the earthquake struck. The 2009 total of 1,782 was higher than any year since 2004, when more than 3,200 Haitians were stopped attempting to reach U.S. shores. That was a year of political upheaval in Haiti following the collapse of the government of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

(Mainichi Japan) January 19, 2010

French minister criticizes US aid role in Haiti

PARIS (AP) -- The United Nations must investigate and clarify the dominant U.S. role in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a French minister said Monday, claiming that international aid efforts were about helping Haiti, not "occupying" it.

U.S. forces last week turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, prompting a complaint from French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet. The plane landed safely the following day.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned governments and aid groups not to squabble as they try to get their aid into Haiti.

"People always want it to be their plane ... that lands," Kouchner said Monday. "(But) what's important is the fate of the Haitians."

But Joyandet persisted.

"This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," Joyandet, in Brussels for an EU meeting on Haiti, said on French radio.

In another weekend incident, 250 Americans were flown to New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base on three military planes from Haiti. U.S. forces initially blocked French and Canadians nationals from boarding the planes, but the cordon was lifted after protests from French and Canadian officials.

The U.S. military controls the Port-au-Prince airport where only one runway is functioning and has been effectively running aid operations. However, the United Nations is taking the lead in the critical task of coordinating aid.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday the U.S. government had no intention of taking power from Haitian officials. "We are working to back them up, but not to supplant them," she said.

Joyandet said he expects a U.N. decision on how governments should work together in Haiti and that he hopes "things will be clarified concerning the role of the United States."

Other French officials sought to calm diplomatic tensions over aid. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero insisted the plane incidents were "minor problems" to be expected during such a difficult relief mission and said that Kouchner and Clinton have been working since the quake on coordinating help.

Both nations have occupied Haiti in the past.

France occupied Haiti for more than 100 years, from 1697 to independence in 1804 after the world's first successful slave uprising. More recently, U.S. Marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934 to quiet political turmoil.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he intends to travel to Haiti "in the weeks to come," though no date has been set. Former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has cautioned that Sarkozy shouldn't go too soon because it could divert attention from aid efforts.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said, "Clearly it can be a problem if every leader in the world wants to turn up. It will inevitably cause problems, particularly for the leadership of these operations, although not, of course, for the humanitarian workers on the ground."

(Mainichi Japan) January 19, 2010

Haitians pray, cry for help in the ruins

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Prayers of thanksgiving and cries for help rose from Haiti's huddled homeless Sunday, the sixth day of an epic humanitarian crisis that was straining the world's ability to respond and igniting flare-ups of violence amid the rubble of Port-au-Prince.

Haitian police struggled to scatter hundreds of stone-throwing looters in the city's Vieux Marche, or Old Market. Elsewhere downtown, amid the smoke from bonfires burning uncollected bodies, gunfire rang out and bands of machete-wielding young men roamed the streets, faces hidden by bandanas.

A leading aid group complained of skewed priorities and a supply bottleneck at the U.S.-controlled airport. The general in charge said the U.S. military was "working aggressively" to speed up deliveries.

Beside the ruins of the Port-Au-Prince cathedral, where the sun streamed through the shattered stained glass, the priest told his flock at their first Sunday Mass since Tuesday's earthquake, "We are in the hands of God now."

But anger mounted hourly that other helping hands were slow in getting food and water to millions in need.

"The government is a joke. The U.N. is a joke," Jacqueline Thermiti, 71, said as she lay in the dust with dozens of dying elderly outside their destroyed nursing home. "We're a kilometer from the airport and we're going to die of hunger."

Water was delivered to more people around the capital, where an estimated 300,000 displaced were living outdoors. But food and medicine were still scarce.

The crippled city choked on the stench of death and shook with yet another aftershock Sunday. On the streets, people were still dying, people were on their knees praying for help, pregnant women were giving birth on the pavement, and the injured were showing up in wheelbarrows and on people's backs at hurriedly erected field hospitals. Authorities warned that looting and violence could spread.

At the Vieux Marche, police tried to disperse looters by driving trucks through the crowds, as hundreds scrambled over partly destroyed shops grabbing anything they could. As he ran from the scene with a big box of tampons, Love Zedouni shouted: "I've got no idea what this is, but I'm sure you can sell it."

Police used tear gas to scatter looters at street markets near the collapsed presidential palace. At the Cite Soleil slum, moments after police drove by, a reporter spotted a gunman stealing a bag of rice from a motorcycle rider.

"This is one of the most serious crises in decades," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he flew into the Haitian capital. "The damage, destruction and loss of life are just overwhelming."

A reliable death toll may be weeks away, but the Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in the 7.0-magnitude tremor, and Haitian officials believe the number is higher.

Celebrating Mass outside the once-proud pink-and-white cathedral, now a shell of rubble where a rotting body lay in the entrance, the Rev. Eric Toussaint preached of thanksgiving to a small congregation of old women and other haggard survivors assembled under the open sky.

"Why give thanks to God? Because we are here," Toussaint said. "What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now."

Mondesir Raymone, a 27-year-old single mother of two, was grateful. "We have survived by the grace of God," she said.

But others were angry.

"It's a catastrophe and it is God who has put this upon us," said Jean-Andre Noel, 39, a computer technician. "Those who live in Haiti need everything. We need food, we need drink, we need medicine. We need help."

Were his parishioners being helped? Toussaint was asked. "Not yet," he replied.

The U.N. World Food Program was "pretty well on target to reach more than 60,000 people today," up from 40,000 the previous day, WFP spokesman David Orr said. But U.N. officials said they must raise that to 2 million within a month. The U.S. aid chief, Rajiv Shah, told "Fox News Sunday" he believed the U.S. distributed 130,000 "meals ready to eat" on Saturday, but the need was much larger. "We're really trying to address it," he said.

Some food was still commercially available in the city, but prices had skyrocketed beyond what most people could afford.

In a further sign of the delays, the aid group CARE had yet to set a plan for distributing 38 tons of WFP high-energy biscuits in outlying areas of Haiti, CARE spokesman Brian Feagans said Sunday. He did not say why.

The Geneva-based aid group Doctors Without Borders put it bluntly: "There is little sign of significant aid distribution."

The "major difficulty," it said, was the bottleneck at the airport, under U.S. military control. It said a flight carrying its own inflatable hospital was denied landing clearance and was being trucked overland from Santo Domingo, almost 200 miles away in the Dominican Republic, delaying its arrival by 24 hours.

French, Brazilian and other officials had earlier complained about the U.S.-run airport's refusal to allow their supply planes to land. A World Food Program official told The New York Times that the Americans' priorities were out of sync, allowing too many U.S. military flights and too few aid deliveries.

The U.S. has completely taken over Port-au-Prince airspace and incoming flights have to register with Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, said Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster, Air Force spokesman here.

"You won't have the stray cats and dogs allowed to come into the airspace and clog it up," he said.

On Sunday, WFP spokesman Gregory Barrow in Rome was more positive, speaking of "extremely close cooperation" with the U.S. at the airport. But a coordinator here for Spain's international development agency, Daniel Martin, complained that their aid supplies had been diverted to Santo Domingo, and Doctors Without Borders spokesman Jason Cone said the U.S. military needed "to be clear on its prioritization of medical supplies and equipment."

The on-the-ground U.S. commander in Haiti, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, acknowledged the bottleneck problem. "We're working aggressively to open up other ways to get in here. The ports are part of that," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The White House said Sunday the U.S. Coast Guard ship Oak had arrived at Port-au-Prince harbor, rendered useless for incoming aid because of quake damage, and would use heavy cranes and other equipment to make the port functional.

Other U.S. help was on the way: Some 2,000 Marines should arrive off Haiti on Monday, Keen said, reinforcing 1,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

The general reported "increasing incidents of violence," as a weakened Haitian police force and U.N. peacekeeping contingent were overwhelmed.

In the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas, a crowd gathered Sunday around the bodies of two accused looters, who had been beaten to death by angry residents. Onlookers said they were among 4,000 prisoners who escaped when the main prison collapsed in the quake.

Angry survivors loitered amid piles of burning garbage in the Bel-Air slum. "White guys, get the hell out!" they shouted in apparent frustration at the sight of more and more foreigners in their streets who were not delivering help.

They also sounded furious with President Rene Preval, who hasn't been seen at a rescue site or gone on radio to address the nation since the quake struck.

"Preval out! Aristide come back!" some shouted, appealing for a return of the populist Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in 2004. From his South African exile, Aristide said last week he wants to return to Haiti, but spoke of no concrete plans to do so.

Work went on, meanwhile, perhaps in its desperate final hours, to find survivors buried in the vast rubble of Port-au-Prince.

At the U.N. headquarters destroyed in the quake, rescuers lifted a Danish staff member alive from the ruins, just 15 minutes after Secretary-General Ban visited the site, where U.N. mission chief Hedi Annabi and at least 39 other staff members were killed. The rescued man was talking and smiling as he was whisked away for medical treatment. Hundreds of peacekeepers and other U.N. staff remain missing.

At a collapsed Caribbean Supermarket where search teams from Florida and New York City worked overnight, a policeman reported that three people had been pulled out alive around 6 a.m. Sunday.

Later, U.S. teams with search dogs in the lead found and rescued a 16-year-old Dominican girl trapped for five days in a small, three-story hotel that crumbled in downtown Port-au-Prince.

More than 1,700 rescue workers had saved more than 70 lives since the quake, a U.N. spokeswoman said in Geneva.

"There are still people living" in collapsed buildings, Elisabeth Byrs told The Associated Press. "Hope continues."

In such conditions, she said, people might survive until Monday.
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(Mainichi Japan) January 18, 2010

Aid slowly reaching Haitians as desperation grows

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Pushed to the far edge of desperation, earthquake-ravaged Haitians dumped decaying bodies into mass graves and begged for water and food Friday amid fear that time is running out to avoid chaos and to rescue anyone still alive in the wreckage.

The U.S. military brought some relief, taking control of the airport, helping coordinate flights bringing in aid and evacuating foreigners and the injured. Medical teams, meanwhile, set up makeshift hospitals, workers started to clear the streets of corpses and water was being distributed in pockets of the city.

But the task was enormous.

Aid workers and authorities warned that unless they can quickly get aid to the people, Port-au-Prince will degenerate into lawlessness.

There were reports of isolated looting as young men walked through downtown with machetes, and robbers reportedly shot one man whose body was left on the street. Survivors also fought each other for food pulled from the debris.

"I'm getting the sense that if the situation doesn't get sorted (out) real soon, it will devolve into chaos," said Steve Matthews, a veteran relief worker with the Christian aid organization World Vision.

Time also was running out to rescue anyone who may still be trapped alive in the many buildings in Port-au-Prince that collapsed in Tuesday's magnitude-7.0 quake.

"Beyond three or four days without water, they'll be pretty ill," said Dr. Michael VanRooyen of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston. "Around three days would be where you would see people start to succumb."

An Australian TV crew pulled a healthy 16-month-old girl from the wreckage of her house Friday -- about 68 hours after the earthquake struck. In a collapsed house, neighbors and reporters heard a cry and found an air pocket: part of the top floor had been held up by a cabinet.

"I could see a dead body that was there, sort of on top of the cabinet; I could hear the baby on the left side of the body screaming," said David Celestino of the Dominican Republic, who had been working with the TV crew.

Although her parents were dead, Winnie Tilin survived with only scratches and soon was in the arms of her uncle, whose pregnant wife also was killed.

"I have to consider her like my baby because mine is passed," Frantz Tilin told The Associated Press.

As temperatures rose into the high 80s (upper 20s Celsius), the sickly smell of the dead lingered over Port-au-Prince, where countless bodies remained unclaimed in the streets. Hundreds of bloated corpses were stacked outside the city morgue, and limbs of the dead protruded from crushed schools and homes.

At a cemetery outside the city, trucks dumped bodies by the dozens into a mass grave. Elsewhere, people pulled a box filled with bodies along a road, then used a mechanical front-loader to lift the box and tip it into a large metal trash bin. South of the capital, workers burned more than 2,000 bodies in a trash dump.

The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed. A third of Haiti's 9 million people may be in need of aid. As many as half of the buildings in the capital and other hard-hit areas were damaged or destroyed, according to the United Nations.

"There are going to be many difficult days ahead," said President Barack Obama, speaking for the fourth time on the disaster in three days.

The effort to get aid to the victims has been stymied by blocked roads, congestion at the airport, limited equipment and other obstacles. U.N. peacekeepers patrolling the capital said popular anger was rising, warning aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.

"People who have not been eating or drinking for almost 50 hours and are already in a very poor situation -- if they see a truck with something, or if they see a supermarket which has collapsed, they just rush to get something to eat," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.

Tom Osbeck, an Indiana missionary whose Protestant-run Jesus in Haiti Ministry operates a school north of Port-au-Prince, said nerves were becoming increasingly frayed.

"Even distributing food or water is very dangerous. People are desperate and will fight to death for a cup of water," Osbeck said.

Tempers flared at one of the capital's functioning gas stations as drivers tried to jockey their dusty cars into line. An armed guard brandishing a shotgun intervened to keep motorists from coming to blows.

Grocery stores were looted clean soon after the quake, according to Emilia Casella of the U.N. World Food Program. She said the WFP would start handing out 6,000 tons of food aid recovered from a damaged warehouse in the city's Cite Soleil slum and was preparing shipments of enough ready-to-eat meals to feed 2 million Haitians for a month.

Asked about the concern of frustration spilling into violence, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said his peacekeepers, working with Haitian police, "are now taking charge of law and order in the city."

"I suspect there will be some frustrations felt by the general population," he added. "We are very much concerned about that kind of possibility and are taking all possible precautionary measures. Until now, I think we have so far not seen major problems."

The U.S. military has several hundred personnel on the ground, including more than 100 troops from the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. Hundreds of sailors, meanwhile, pulled into Port-au-Prince harbor on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Within hours, an 82nd Airborne rapid response unit was handing out food, water and medical supplies from two cargo pallets outside the airport, a helicopter lifted off with water to distribute, and a reconnaissance chopper went searching for drop zones around the capital to move out more aid. Soldiers said they expected more supplies later in the day.

At the airport, foreigners waved their passports to guards as they scrambled to escape the chaos by boarding the departing flights.

"We've had people crying, people passing out," said Muriel Sinai, 38, a nurse from Orlando, Florida.

Some 250 Americans were flown to New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base on three military planes. U.S. forces in control of the airport initially blocked French and Canadians from boarding planes, even though a French military aircraft stood by. They lifted their cordon after protests from French and Canadian officials.

The State Department said the U.S. death toll was six and predicted it will rise.

With hospitals devastated, more than 3,000 injured have been treated in the Dominican Republic, including Haitian Senate President Kelly Bastien. A border hospital in Jimani is overflowing, while a trauma center in Santo Domingo requested blood donations to keep up with demand.

In Port-au-Prince, 100 people have died while waiting for treatment at the offices of Doctors Without Borders, mission director Stefano Zannini said by phone. Open fractures are the most common injury, he said.

"I can see thousands of them walking in the streets, lost, asking for help, asking for everything," he said.

There was good news, too: Surgeons performed a complicated cesarean birth, Zannini said. "I am very proud to share with you that we were able to save both the lives of the baby and the mother."

An El Al Boeing 777 landed Friday with 250 Israeli medical officers and nurses ready to set up a military field hospital. A reconnaissance team set out to find a site for the 90-bed facility, which will have a full surgical unit and the capacity to treat 100 patients at a time.

In front of the collapsed National Palace, thousands of homeless in makeshift camps pleaded for help. Marimartha Syrel, a nurse, said nobody had provided even water since Tuesday. "We can't cook food. We can't do anything." The sidewalks were littered with excrement left on paper plates.

"They are very hungry," said Rivia Alce, a 21-year-old street vendor selling gum, cigarettes and rum. If no help comes, she said, "we will die."

Nearby, a woman with a bowl of water on the sidewalk bathed a naked girl without soap. Then she washed an elderly woman, naked but for a sagging pair of white panties.

A block away, a dozen bodies lay bloated and uncovered on the sidewalk -- one of them with arms reaching out, as if begging for release.

Rubble spilling over from collapsed buildings blocked downtown traffic to all but pedestrians. People covered their faces with scarves to shield themselves from dust and the stench of decay. Small bands of young men and boys carrying machetes roamed the streets.

"They are scavenging everything. What can you do?" said 53-year-old Michel Legros, who was waiting for heavy equipment to excavate his house, where he added that seven relatives were buried. "I know some of them died."

(Mainichi Japan) January 16, 2010

Frequent victim in the past, Asia to aid Haiti

BEIJING (AP) -- Asian leaders cited their own experiences with natural disasters Thursday in offering help to quake-shattered Haiti as part of a massive international effort to alleviate the effects of the catastrophe.

Haitian officials have predicted a horrific death toll of more than 100,000 in the wake of the magnitude-7 quake Tuesday that left most of the capital Port-au-Prince in rubble.

Haiti's devastation is all too familiar to Indonesia: a mammoth quake struck off the country's western coast in 2004, spawning a tsunami that killed about 230,000 people in 14 countries -- half of them in Indonesia.

"As a country that has been itself devastated by a similar situation, we are absolutely saddened by what's happening in Haiti," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vietnam. "We call on the ASEAN community, including ourselves, of course, to do what we can do to assist them."

President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort including military and civilian emergency teams from across the U.S. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was expected to arrive off the coast Thursday and the Navy said the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan had been ordered to sail as soon as possible with a 2,000-member Marine unit.

"We have to be there for them in their hour of need," Obama said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cut short an extended trip to the Asia-Pacific region to deal with the earthquake crisis in Haiti, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates called off a planned trip to Australia where he and Clinton were to attend an annual summit.

Clinton told reporters in Hawaii on Wednesday that she would return to Washington to help oversee U.S. relief efforts instead of continuing on to Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand as she had initially planned.

Clinton says the United States will do all it can to help Haiti surmount a "cycle of hope and despair."

The United Nations has released $10 million from its emergency funds, even as U.N. workers and peacekeeping troops on the island nation at the time of the quake struggled with their own losses. The U.N. headquarters building collapsed, and at least 16 personnel are confirmed dead, with up to 150 still missing.

"We'll be using whatever roads are passable to get aid to Port-au-Prince, and if possible we'll bring helicopters in," said Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the U.N. food agency in Geneva.

Its 200 staff in Haiti were trying to deliver high-energy biscuits and other supplies, despite looting and the threat of violence in a nation long plagued by lawlessness.

The Red Cross estimated that some 3 million people will require aid, ranging from shelter to food and clean water, and said many Haitians could need relief for a full year.

The World Bank said it would provide $100 million in emergency aid to Haiti to support recovery and reconstruction work. Experts would be sent to assess the scope of the damage and help prioritize where needs are greatest.

The global relief effort picked up steam Thursday as a Chinese chartered plane with emergency relief supplies landed in Port-au-Prince. British officials said rescue workers arrived in neighboring Dominican Republic, with search dogs and heavy equipment. The crew planned to reach Haiti later in the evening.

Other offers of money and aid poured in from across the world, including Asia.

"Having been victims of such natural calamities ourselves in the past few years, we are exchanging information and views," said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Meanwhile, China dispatched a chartered plane loaded up with 10 tons of tents, food, medical equipment and sniffer dogs that arrived in Haiti on Thursday. Accompanying the emergency materials were a 60-member earthquake relief team that had firsthand experience in the country's own quake disaster two years ago.

The world had sped to Beijing's aid during its May 2008 quake, which had rumbled across a huge swath of southwestern China, leaving almost 90,000 people dead or missing.

"Most of the members are very experienced," Liu Xiangyang, deputy chief of the National Earthquake Disaster Emergency Rescue Team, told the official Xinhua News Agency before their departure. China's Red Cross has also offered emergency funding of $1 million to Haiti.

Meanwhile, Australia pledged an initial $9.3 million for emergency humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance, with about half going for emergency water, food and shelter, while the remainder will be for rehabilitation efforts.

Japan will provide up to $5 million in aid, along with $330,000 worth of tents and blankets, a Foreign Ministry official said. A four-member fact-finding mission will also be sent to determine what Japan can do to help.

South Korea will give emergency humanitarian aid worth $1 million, its Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said, and is considering sending rescue teams.

The devastation is widespread, with the sheer number of dead bodies expected to pose a health and safety problem. The World Health Organization said it had sent specialists to help clear the city of corpses, and the International Red Cross was sending a plane Thursday loaded mainly with body bags.

The European Commission has approved $4.37 million while member states Spain, the Netherlands and Germany promised millions more.

Rescue teams from France and Switzerland were on their way, while Spain dispatched three planeloads of rescuers and 100 tons of tents, blankets and cooking kits.

The Israeli army sent in two planeloads of rescue staff and equipment to set up a field hospital in Haiti that can serve up to 500 people a day. The crew will include 220 rescue workers, including 40 military doctors and 24 nurses.

Israel was sending in an elite Army rescue unit of engineers and doctors.

The Red Cross federation has asked for $10 million in emergency donations to help fund its efforts in Haiti. The IFRC, which represents national Red Cross societies around the world, said it is still gauging the needs of people hit by the quake and will deploy specialists in relief coordination, water and sanitation, shelter, telecommunications and health as well as set up a field hospital.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched a dedicated Web site to help Haitians register and find missing loved ones.

Canada sent a military reconnaissance team to assess and planned an initial donation of $4.8 million, with more aid to flow after reports to Ottawa by military reconnaissance team.

(Mainichi Japan) January 15, 2010

Haiti quake aid snarled; up to 50,000 feared dead

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Doctors and search dogs, troops and rescue teams flew to this devastated land of dazed, dead and dying people Thursday, finding bottlenecks everywhere, beginning at a main airport short on jet fuel and ramp space and without a control tower.

The international Red Cross estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's cataclysmic earthquake, based on information from the Haitian Red Cross and government officials. Hard-pressed recovery teams resorted to using bulldozers to transport loads of dead.

Worries mounted, meanwhile, about food and water for the survivors. "People have been almost fighting for water," aid worker Fevil Dubien said as he distributed water from a truck in a northern Port-au-Prince neighborhood.

From Virginia, from France, from China, a handful of rescue teams were able to get down to work, scouring the rubble for survivors. In one "small miracle," searchers pulled a security guard alive from beneath the collapsed concrete floors of the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters, where many others were entombed.

But the silence of the dead otherwise was overwhelming in a city where uncounted bodies littered the streets in the 80-degree heat, and dust-caked arms and legs reached, frozen and lifeless, from the ruins. Outside the General Hospital morgue, hundreds of collected corpses blanketed the parking lot, as the grief-stricken searched among them for loved ones. Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers, key to city security, were trying to organize mass burials.

Patience already was wearing thin among the poorest who were waiting for aid, said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

"They want us to provide them with help, which is, of course, what we want to do," he said. But they see U.N. vehicles patrolling the streets to maintain calm, and not delivering aid, and "they're slowly getting more angry and impatient," he said.

In Washington, President Barack Obama announced "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history," starting with $100 million in aid. The first of 800 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division were bound for Haiti from North Carolina late Thursday, to be followed by more than 2,000 Marines. The American troops "will relieve pressure" on overworked U.N. elements, Wimhurst said.

From Europe, Asia and the Americas, other governments, the U.N. and private aid groups were sending planeloads of high-energy biscuits and other food, tons of water, tents, blankets, water-purification gear, heavy equipment for removing debris, helicopters and other transport, and teams of hundreds of search-and-rescue, medical and other specialists.

But two days after much of this ramshackle city was shattered, the global helping hand was slowed by the poor roads, airport and seaport of a wretchedly poor nation.

Some 60 aid flights had arrived by midday Thursday, but they then had to contend with the chokepoint of an overloaded Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport. At midday, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was temporarily halting all civilian flights from the U.S. at Haiti's request, because the airport was jammed and jet fuel was limited for return flights. The control tower had been destroyed in Tuesday's tremor, complicating air traffic. Civilian relief flights were later allowed to resume.

"There's only so much concrete" for parking planes, U.S. Air Force Col. Buck Elton said at the airport. "It's a constant puzzle of trying to move aircraft in and out."

Teams that did land then had to navigate Haiti's inadequate roads, sometimes blocked by debris or by quake survivors looking for safe open areas as aftershocks still rumbled through the city. The U.N. World Food Program said the quake-damaged seaport made ship deliveries of aid impossible.

The looting of shops that broke out after the 7.0-magnitude quake struck late Tuesday afternoon added to concerns. The Brazilian military warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting by the desperate population.

"There is no other way to get provisions," American Red Cross representative Matt Marek said of the store looting. "Even if you have money, those resources are going to be exhausted in a few days." The city's "ti-marchant," mostly women who sell food on the streets, were expected to run out soon. Red Cross officials have estimated one-third of Haiti's 9 million people are in need of aid.

The quake brought down Port-au-Prince's gleaming white National Palace and other government buildings, disabling much of the national leadership. That vacuum was evident Thursday, as no senior Haitian government officials were visible at the airport.

"Donations are coming in to the airport here, but there is not yet a system to get it in," said Kate Conradt, a spokeswoman for the Save the Children aid group. "It's necessary to create a structure to stock and distribute supplies," the Brazilian military said.

Edmond Mulet, a former U.N. peacekeeping chief in Haiti, arrived Thursday from U.N. headquarters in New York to lead the relief effort, along with a U.N. disaster coordination team. The first U.S. military units to arrive took on a coordinating role at the airport, but State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley underlined, "We're not taking over Haiti."

Wimhurst said the Haitian police "are not visible at all," no doubt because many had to deal with lost homes and family members, and law-and-order needs had fallen completely to the 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers and international police in Haiti.

Across the sprawling, hilly city, people milled about in open areas, hopeful for help, sometimes setting up camps amid piles of salvaged goods, including food scavenged from the rubble. Small groups by roadsides could be seen burying dead. Other dust-covered bodies were being dragged down streets, toward hospitals where relatives hoped to leave them. Countless remained unburied, stacked up, children's bodies lying atop mothers, tiny feet poking from blankets.

The injured, meanwhile, waited for treatment in makeshift holding areas -- outside the General Hospital, for example, where the stench from piles of dead, just a few yards (meters) away, wafted over the assembled living. Crews began removing unclaimed bodies with bulldozers, dumping them into trucks, possibly for mass burial.

Here and there, small tragedies unfolded. In the Petionville suburb, friends held back Kettely Clerge -- "I want to see her," she sobbed -- as neighbors with bare hands tried to dig out her 9-year-old goddaughter, Harryssa Keem Clerge, pleading for rescue, from beneath their home's rubble.

"There's no police, there's nobody," the hopeless godmother cried. By day's end, the girl was dead.

At the collapsed U.N. peacekeeping headquarters, an Estonian guard, Tarmo Joveer, was pulled alive and unhurt from the ruins at 8 a.m. Thursday, 39 hours after the quake -- a "small miracle," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York. But U.N. officials reported that 36 other U.N. personnel, mostly peacekeepers and international police, were confirmed dead and almost 200 remained missing, including top staff.

Nearby, firefighters from Fairfax County, Virginia, and a rescue team from China, with sniffer dogs, clambered through rubble and searched for signs of life. Two excavators stood by, ready to dig for survivors -- or dead. A French team, meanwhile, rescued three people alive from the wrecked Montana Hotel, U.N. officials reported.

European and Latin American nations reported scores of their nationals unaccounted for in Haiti, and a handful confirmed dead. Of the estimated 45,000 Americans in Haiti, the U.S. Embassy had contacted almost 1,000. Only one American was confirmed dead, a veteran Foreign Service officer, Victoria DeLong, killed in her collapsed home.

For the long-suffering people of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, shock and disbelief were giving way to despair.

"We need food. The people are suffering. My neighbors and friends are suffering," said Sylvain Angerlotte, 22. "We don't have money. We don't have nothing to eat. We need pure water."

But life also went on. Brazilian soldiers helped deliver a baby girl in an improvised garage-hospital at their base, just hours after the quake hit. Capt. Fabricio Almeida de Moura said the child was doing well, but the life of the mother, who apparently went into labor from the shock of the tremor, was in danger from bleeding, the Agencia Brasil news service reported.

The unimaginable scope of the catastrophe left many Haitians, a fervently religious people, in helpless tears and prayer.

Reached by The Associated Press from New York, Yael Talleyrand, a 16-year-old student in Jacmel, on Haiti's south coast, told of thousands of people made homeless by the quake and sleeping on an airfield runway, "crying, praying and I had never seen this in my entire life."

Earlier, she said, one woman had run through Jacmel's streets screaming, "God, we know you can kill us! We know you're strongest! You don't need to show us!"

(Mainichi Japan) January 15, 2010

International aid pledges for Haiti quake relief

A glance at some of the international aid pledges for victims of the earthquake in Haiti:

-- The U.S. government is making an initial $100 million relief effort and is sending ships, helicopters, transport planes and 2,000 Marines.

-- Canada is sending $5 million Canadian (US$4.8 million) and matching contributions by individual Canadians to eligible charitable organizations up to a total of $50 million Canadian (US$47 million). Ottawa also is sending two navy ships, helicopters, transport planes and a disaster response team.

-- The World Bank is providing a $100 million grant, and the U.N. is sending $10 million.

-- Britain is sending $10 million. A four-person government assessment team and 71 rescue specialists along with search dogs and heavy equipment arrived Thursday.

-- Australia has pledged $9.3 million; Norway, about 30 million kroner ($5.3 million); Japan, up to $5 million; Italy, 1 million euros ($1.46 million); and the European Commission, 3 million euros ($4.37 million).

-- The Netherlands and the Italian bishops' conference have each donated 2 million euros. Denmark has donated 10 million kroner ($1.9 million) and Finland is giving 1.25 million euros ($1.8 million). South Korea has pledged aid worth $1 million.

-- Spain has pledged 3 million euros ($4.37 million), and sent rescue teams and 100 tons of equipment. Germany gave 1.5 million euros ($2.17 million) and sent an immediate response team.

-- India and China will each donate $1 million and China is sending a 60-member relief team with sniffer dogs.

-- Sweden has offered 6 million kronor ($850,000), along with tents, water purification equipment and medical aid. It is also sending a team to build a new base to replace the U.N.'s destroyed headquarters.

-- Irish telecommunications company Digicel said it would donate $5 million and help repair the phone network.

-- U.S. cell phone users have contributed more than $5 million in $10 increments to the Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief, by texting the word "Haiti" to the number 90999.

-- Venezuela has sent doctors, firefighters and rescue workers. Mexico will send doctors, search-and-rescue dogs and infrastructure experts. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said 400 staff from the public security authority are being sent, as well a ship with two surgical operating units, 50 beds for injured and earth-moving equipment.

-- Iceland and Portugal are each sending more than 30 rescue workers. Taiwan has sent 23 rescue workers and two tons of aid and equipment.

-- Israel plans to open a field hospital and is sending 220 rescue workers.

-- A Swiss rescue team is arriving overland from the Dominican Republic. A flight carrying 40-50 tons of aid goods is planned for Friday.

-- The International Committee of the Red Cross has 3,000 body bags in the shipment of 40-50 tons of aid scheduled to leave from Geneva to Haiti on Thursday night.

(Mainichi Japan) January 15, 2010

Trapped Haitian girl dies despite rescue effort

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Trapped beneath the crumbled remains of her home, the 9-year-old girl could be heard begging for rescue as neighbors clawed at sand and debris with their bare hands.

It had been two days since the earthquake collapsed the cinderblock home, trapping Haryssa Keem Clerge inside the basement. Friends and neighbors braved aftershocks to climb over the rubble, one of hundreds of toppled structures teetering on the side of a ravine.

In a city full of people desperately waiting for more help than neighbors can muster, help never came for Haryssa.

Just hours after her screams renewed rescuers' hopes Thursday, the child's lifeless body was finally pulled from the mass of concrete and twisted metal. Wrapped in a green bath towel, it was placed inside a loose desk drawer. With nowhere to take it, the body was then left on the hood of a battered Isuzu Trooper.

"There are no police, no anybody," said the child's despairing godmother, Kettely Clerge. Neighbors had to hold her back as she walked toward the building's winding, partially collapsed stairway, wailing: "I want to see her!"

A day earlier, the little girl's mother, Lauranie Jean, was pulled from the rubble of the same house. She lay moaning inside a tent Thursday as volunteers rubbed ointment into open wounds on her sides.

The family has now taken refuge in a dirt playground -- one of hundreds of open spaces across Port-au-Prince that people are filling each night to try to avoid the risk of aftershocks.

Haitians living in the capital's growing tent cities say they do not expect help anytime soon.

"People are waiting for someone to take care of them," said Michel Reau, 27, who brought his wife and infant child to the park after their home collapsed. "We are out of food. We are out of water."

A neighbor, Bellefleur Jean Heber, said Kettely Clerge had doted on little Haryssa, a bright and lively child whom she raised as though she were her own daughter. Each day, she walked the girl to school in their Petionville neighborhood, where Haryssa was known as a dedicated student.

As word spread Thursday that the child was still alive, more than a dozen people raced to help.

Inside the cramped basement, Haryssa was discovered trapped by a partially collapsed roof. Rescuers got close enough to pass her water but they could not get food to her before she died.

Heber said nobody expected help from authorities.

"Haiti is an abandoned country," he said. "People are relying on themselves."

Across Port-au-Prince, similar tragedies unfolded on Thursday. At the St. Gerard School, Cindy Terasme broke into sobs when she caught sight of her 14-year-old brother Jean Gaelle Dersmorne's feet protruding from the rubble. The child was dead.

So was another schoolgirl known only as Ruth, whose dust-covered legs dangled lifelessly from the collapsed wall she was trapped under.

An unknown number of people remain buried after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit Tuesday, collapsing houses, office buildings and a children's hospital. Haitians used sledgehammers and their bare hands to search for survivors or bodies, piling the dead up at roadsides across the city.

The mayor of Port-au-Prince, Muscadin Jean Yves Jason, said one of his top priorities is to clear the bodies off the streets. But he said he has nowhere near the resources he needs to help the injured.

"We have nothing to do our job," said the mayor, who pleaded for sister cities in the U.S. including Miami, to send assistance. "We have no materials, no resources, nothing."

The city began preparing a mass grave for the dead Thursday, with backhoes and other heavy equipment creating space inside a cemetery. Bodies waiting for burial were piled in heaps of as many as six people, many of them bloodied. One dead woman's hands were still stretched out as if exclaiming in grief.

A parade of pick-up trucks, push carts and people carrying bodies on makeshift shelters added to the piles one by one.

(Mainichi Japan) January 15, 2010

Haiti quake: thousands feared dead, many trapped

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers searched collapsed buildings as officials feared the death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.

The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation a day after the magnitude-7 quake flattened much of the capital of 2 million people.

Tuesday's earthquake brought down buildings great and small -- from shacks in shantytowns to President Rene Preval's gleaming white National Palace, where a dome tilted ominously above the manicured grounds.

Hospitals, schools and the main prison collapsed. The capital's Roman Catholic archbishop was killed when his office and the main cathedral fell. The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing in the ruins of the organization's multistory headquarters.

At a triage center improvised in a hotel parking lot, people with cuts, broken bones and crushed ribs moaned under tent-like covers fashioned from bloody sheets.

"I can't take it any more. My back hurts too much," said Alex Georges, 28, who was still waiting for treatment a day after the school he was in collapsed and killed 11 classmates. A body lay a few feet away.

"This is much worse than a hurricane," said doctors' assistant Jimitre Coquillon. "There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."

Bodies were everywhere in Port-au-Prince: those of tiny children adjacent to schools, women in the rubble-strewn streets with stunned expressions frozen on their faces, men hidden beneath plastic tarps and cotton sheets.

Haiti's leaders struggled to comprehend the extent of the catastrophe -- the worst earthquake to hit the country in 200 years -- even as aftershocks still reverberated.

"It's incredible," Preval told CNN. "A lot of houses destroyed, hospitals, schools, personal homes. A lot of people in the street dead. ... I'm still looking to understand the magnitude of the event and how to manage."

Preval said thousands of people were probably killed. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead, but conceded that nobody really knows.

"Let's say that it's too early to give a number," Preval said.

Haiti seems especially prone to catastrophe -- from natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, floods and mudslides to crushing poverty, unstable governments, poor building standards and low literacy rates.

In Petionville, next to the capital, people used sledgehammers and their bare hands to dig through a collapsed commercial center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.

Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun.

Looting began almost as quickly as the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. and people were seen carrying food from collapsed buildings. Many lugged what they could salvage and stacked it around them as they slept in streets and parks.

People streamed into the Haitian countryside, where wooden and cinderblock shacks showed little sign of damage. Many balanced suitcases and other belongings on their heads. Ambulances and U.N. trucks raced in the opposite direction, toward Port-au-Prince.

About 3,000 police and international peacekeepers cleared debris, directed traffic and maintained security in the capital. But law enforcement was stretched thin even before the quake and would be ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.

An American aid worker was trapped for about 10 hours under the rubble of her mission house before she was rescued by her husband, who told CBS' "Early Show" that he drove 100 miles (160 kilometers) to Port-au-Prince to find her. Frank Thorp said he dug for more than an hour to free his wife, Jillian, and a co-worker, from under about a foot of concrete.

The international Red Cross said a third of the country's 9 million people may need emergency aid, a burden that would test any nation and a crushing catastrophe for impoverished Haiti.

President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort and American officials said they were responding with ships, helicopters, transport planes and a 2,000-member Marine unit, as well as civilian emergency teams from across the U.S.

"We have to be there for them in their hour of need," Obama said.

The first C-130 plane carrying part of a military assessment team arrived in Haiti, the U.S. Southern Command said.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, was expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti on Thursday. More U.S. Navy ships were under way as well, the U.S. Southern Command said.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the hospital on the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the military has been detaining suspected terrorists.

A small contingent of U.S. ground troops could be on their way soon, although it was unclear whether they would be used for security operations or humanitarian efforts.

Cuba, which already had hundreds of doctors in Haiti, treated the injured in field hospitals. The aid group Doctors Without Borders helped quake victims in tent clinics set up to replace its damaged facilities.

Port-au-Prince's ruined buildings fell on both the poor and the prominent: The body of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found in the ruins of his office, according to the Rev. Pierre Le Beller at Miot's order, the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France.

Senate President Kelly Bastien was among those trapped alive inside the Parliament building, and a day later had stopped responding to rescuers' cries, Latortue said.

Even the main prison in the capital fell down, "and there are reports of escaped inmates," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.

Haiti's quake refugees likely will face an increased risk of dengue fever, malaria and measles -- problems that plagued the impoverished country before, said Kimberley Shoaf, associate director of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters.

Some of the biggest immediate health threats include respiratory disease from inhaling dust from collapsed buildings and diarrhea from drinking contaminated water.

She said swamped clinics may not be able to give people help they need for broken bones and other injuries, leading to complications -- a warning borne out on the streets where people, some covered in the dust of collapsed buildings, nursed wounds that bled through crude bandages.

The U.N.'s 9,000-member peacekeeping force sent patrols across the capital's streets while securing the airport, port and main buildings -- but also struggled to rescue colleagues from their collapsed headquarters.

U.N. mission head Hedi Annabi of Tunisia was among about 150 people missing, mostly at the headquarters building, said peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Annabi's chief deputy, Luis Carlos da Costa, was missing as well.

Le Roy said only about 10 people had been pulled out, many of them badly injured.

Brazil's army reported that at least 11 of its peacekeepers were killed. Jordan's official news agency said three of its peacekeepers were died.

The U.S. Embassy had no confirmed reports of deaths among the estimated 40,000-45,000 Americans who live in Haiti, but many were struggling to find a way out of the country.

Dozens were forced to abandon a Tuesday evening flight to Miami when the earthquake damaged the airport.

Kency Germain of Eatontown, N.J., kept his family -- five adults and three children including his wife -- at the airport until nearly 3 a.m. They made their way to the U.S. Embassy, where they were allowed to sleep briefly near the entrance.

"It was safer in there (the airport) than it was out there in Port-au-Prince," Germain said.

(Mainichi Japan) January 14, 2010

Panic, looting and triage after major Haiti quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- The tiny bodies of children lay in piles next to the ruins of their collapsed school. People with faces covered by white dust and the blood of open wounds roamed the streets. Frantic doctors wrapped heads and stitched up sliced limbs in a hotel parking lot.

The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, still struggling to recover from the relentless strikes of four catastrophic storms in 2008, was a picture of heartbreaking devastation Wednesday after a magnitude-7 earthquake.

Tuesday's quake left a landscape of collapsed buildings -- hospitals, schools, churches, ramshackle homes, even the gleaming national palace -- the rubble sending up a white cloud that shrouded the entire capital.

On Wednesday, ambulances weaved in and out of crowds, swerving to miss the bodies lying in street and the men on foot who lugged stretchers bearing some of the injured.

Shocked survivors wandered about in a daze, some wailing the names of loved ones, praying or calling for help. Others with injuries fast growing into infections sat by the roadside, waiting for doctors who were not sure to come.

Search-and-rescue helicopters buzzed over the bodies of partially clothed victims who lay face-down in mounds of rubble and twisted steel.

Everywhere, there was panic, urgency, pleas for help.

"Thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them," Bob Poff, divisional director of disaster services in Haiti for the Salvation Army, said in a posting on the agency's Web site.

Poff wrote that he was driving down the mountain from Petionville, a hillside city bordering the capital, when the earthquake struck.

"Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings 'pancaking' down," he wrote.

Poff said he and others piled bodies into the back of his truck and took them down the hill, hoping to get them medical attention.

There was no reliable count, but officials feared thousands, maybe tens of thousands, had died in the quake. Some Haitian leaders suggested the figure could be higher than 100,000. In the chaos, doctors rushed to tend to the countless injured.

The parking lot of Port-au-Prince's Hotel Villa Creole became a triage center. Under tents fashioned from bloody sheets, dozens lay moaning from the pain of cuts in their heads, broken bones and crushed ribs.

"I can't take it any more. My back hurts too much," said Alex Georges, 28, who had lain on the parking lot's sloping blacktop for more than a day waiting for help. Just a few feet away lay the dead body of another man who appeared to be about his age.

When the quake struck just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Georges he was in a meeting with about 30 other students at a school in the neighborhood of Morne Hercule. The roof fell in, he said, killing 11 of his classmates instantly and critically injuring him and others.

Several thousand Haitian police and international peacekeepers poured into the streets Wednesday to clear debris, direct traffic and maintain security. But there was only so much they could do: Looters prowled through shops, then blended into crowds of desperate refugees lugging salvaged possessions. The main prison in the capital fell, and there were reports of escaped inmates, U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.

Haitians who could still walk were streaming out of the capital by the hundreds, many of them balancing suitcases and other belongings on their heads as they headed down one of the capital's main streets. Police shouted orders to keep traffic moving at congested intersections as ambulances and United Nations trucks raced toward downtown Port-au-Prince.

In Petionville, people used sledgehammers and their bare hands to excavate a collapsed commercial center, scampering across the rubble as they tossed aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars and a U.N. truck were buried underneath.

Up the hill, about 200 victims, including many small children, huddled together in a theater parking lot and rigged tarps out of bed sheets to protect themselves from the scorching sun.

"The immediate need is to rescue people trapped in the rubble, then to get people food and water," Sophie Perez, Haiti director of the U.S.-based humanitarian organization CARE, told her colleagues in an e-mail.

"Everything is urgent."

(Mainichi Japan) January 14, 2010

16 UN personnel killed, 150 missing in Haiti

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. chief said 16 U.N. personnel were confirmed dead late Wednesday in the earthquake that decimated Haiti's capital, with 100 to 150 U.N. workers still unaccounted for, including the mission chief and his deputy.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that 11 Brazilian peacekeepers and five international police officers -- three from Jordan and one each from Chad and Argentina -- were killed in the "horrendous" quake.

U.N. officials said 56 others were injured. Seven who were seriously hurt were evacuated from the country, they said.

"Many continue to be trapped inside U.N. headquarters and other buildings," said Ban, noting that includes the U.N.'s mission chief, Hedi Annabi, and his chief deputy, Luis Carlos da Costa. "Other peacekeepers and civilian staff from many member states remain unaccounted for."

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said at least 10 people were pulled alive on Wednesday from the lower floors of the five-story headquarters building for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, which collapsed in Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake quake.

Annabi, a Tunisian diplomat who has worked for the U.N. for 28 years, and da Costa, a Brazilian whose U.N. career spans four decades, were missing. Also unaccounted for was an eight-member police delegation from China that Annabi was meeting in an office on the headquarters' top floor when it collapsed, U.N. officials said.

"It is our estimate that around hundreds of people were still working inside the building," Ban said. "Therefore it will be in the range of 100 to 150 that I'm quite concerned about."

Ban said he was immediately dispatching Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mullet, who was Annabi's predecessor in Haiti, to Port-au-Prince to take over as acting chief of the U.N. mission and direct the world body's emergency response starting Thursday morning.

"Most urgently is the emergency search and rescue: People buried under the rubble are still alive. We must save them, as many as possible, and we must move immediately," Ban said. "To the people of Haiti, I say this: We are with you. We are working quickly, as fast as humanly possible."

Ban said one Chinese and at least two U.S. search and rescue teams should have arrived in Haiti by Wednesday night, with two more U.S. teams expected to arrive Thursday. He said Mullet would try to meet with Haitian President Rene Preval and other government leaders immediately after his arrival. Ban said his office was unable to directly contact Preval.

Ban's former spokeswoman, Michele Montas, a well-known Haitian journalist, was visiting family when the quake struck. In an e-mail received by U.N. staff late Wednesday afternoon, Montas said she was OK but Port-au-Prince "is 80 percent destroyed," said Montas' successor, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"Saw hundreds of bodies in the street this morning and people trying to reach survivors under buildings and carrying the wounded on doors and makeshift stretchers. Most everything above one-story has been leveled," and there have been "more than 30 aftershocks," Montas wrote in an e-mail as read aloud to reporters by Nesirky.

Le Roy said the Villa Prive and the Hotel Montana, where a large number of U.N. staff lived, also were damaged. He said it was not known how many U.N. personnel were in the buildings at the time.

Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Program, said 38 UNDP staff are unaccounted for, including 10 believed to have been in the building adjacent to the agency's main office, which collapsed.

The U.N.'s Haitian mission -- spread across the country -- includes 7,000 peacekeeping troops, 2,000 international police, 490 international civilian staffers, 1,200 local civilian staffers and 200 U.N. volunteers, he said. The force was brought in after a bloody 2004 rebellion following decades of violence and poverty in the nation.

Le Roy said the 3,000 troops and police in Port-au-Prince are securing the airport and port, patrolling, and helping to clear roads in addition to digging in the rubble of the collapsed headquarters building.

The U.N. is operating out of its logistics base near the airport, which was not seriously damaged, he said.

Susanna Malcorra, the undersecretary-general for the department that staffs and equips U.N. field-based peace operations, said the Brazilian peacekeeping contingent includes an engineering unit which is moving "with a lot of caution" at the toppled headquarters building because they don't have the expertise in dealing with people trapped under rubble nor the specific tools to handle it, including sensors to listen for signs of life.

The engineers are trying "to ensure that they don't produce more damage to the building than has already happened," she said.

"We need guidance from the rescue teams to make sure that we maximize the use of our engineers properly," Malcorra said.

Ban urged the international community "to come to Haiti's aid in this hour of need" and announced that the U.N. would provide $10 million for immediate relief from its emergency fund "to kickstart" the global response.

Late Wednesday, Ban met with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, his special envoy to Haiti, and they then attended a meeting of the General Assembly where many countries announced pledges of aid to the devastated country.

Clinton, who has been focusing on raising money to rebuild Haiti after devastating cyclones in 2008, said "maybe a third of the country" has been affected by the quake. He urged people to send cash -- not supplies -- to buy food, water, shelter materials and first aid supplies.

He urged member nations to provide Haiti the aid they previously pledged. "We need those commitments," Clinton said.

(Mainichi Japan) January 14, 2010

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