Wednesday, January 13, 2010

‘Horrific’ devastation from Haiti quake

PM fears death toll above 100,000; food, water needed, aid worker says

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Death was everywhere Wednesday in this devastated city of 2 million. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

Moreover, untold numbers were still trapped after a powerful earthquake Tuesday crushed thousands of structures — from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the local U.N. headquarters.

As nations around the world mobilized to send help, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told Reuters that he believed the casualties would be "in the range of thousands of dead."
Soon after, however, Bellerive told CNN that "I believe we are well over 100,000" dead, while Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue said it could be 500,000.

President Rene Preval, for his part, told CNN that "up to now, I heard 50,000 ... 30,000" dead.
But he did not say where the estimates came from, and none of the officials were sure about the numbers. Other officials said it was too early to give an accounting of the toll.

Aid workers reported widespread destruction and suffering.

"It's the most horrific thing I've ever seen," Bob Poff, a Salvation Army worker in Port-au-Prince, told MSNBC. "We have to get food and water" quickly, he said, in describing conditions that range from stifling heat to numerous aftershocks. "We're trying to stay alive."

‘Please take me out’Sobbing and dazed people wandered the streets of Port-au-Prince, and voices cried out from the rubble.

"Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me," a woman told a journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten.

The International Red Cross said some 3 million people may have been affected.

Haitian Red Cross spokesman Pericles Jean-Baptiste said his organization was overwhelmed. "There are too many people who need help ... We lack equipment, we lack body bags," he said Wednesday.


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