15 January 2010
One group trying to free a man trapped in the rubble of the tax office looked up wearily at the planes flying overhead. “We hear on the radio that rescue teams are coming from the outside, but nothing is coming. We only have our fingers to look for survivors,” said Jean-Baptiste Lafontin Wilfried.
Despite the launch of the massive aid operation, there is no sign of heavy-lifting equipment among the rubble even as tons of material and badly needed supplies flooded the airport.
The rapidly decomposing bodies are also posing a major problem. Port-au-Prince resident Jacky Dodard says corpse disposal has been random and chaotic. “What is happening is that there is no help in the streets. Personally, I haven’t seen any help,” she said. “So everybody is trying to drop their dead bodies somewhere. They don’t know what to do with the dead bodies.”
Haitian officials have warned the overall death toll may top 100,000 as a result of the powerful quake that ripped across the poorest nation in the Americas. The International Red Cross said the quake, the largest in the Caribbean island nation in more than 150 years, has killed between 40,000 and 50,000 people.
“If international aid doesn’t come, the situation will deteriorate quickly. We need water and food urgently,” said Haitian survivor Lucille, still dazed by the scenes of devastation and carnage. Witnesses say there has already been some looting in the city. “More doctors, fewer journalists,” one man yelled angrily, shaking his fists at a foreign media crew.
Haitian native and hip hop star Wyclef Jean has described conditions as “the apocalypse” and said Haiti needed to raise $1 million a day to survive. “We spent the day picking up dead bodies. All day that’s what we did. There’s so much bodies in the streets that the morgues are filled up, the cemeteries are filled up,” he told Fox News. Doctors were struggling to treat the vast numbers of sick and injured, with medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers speaking of patients with “severe traumas, head wounds, crushed limbs” and burns. (ABC News)