Showing posts with label earthquake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label earthquake. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

Haiti quake horror as over 100,000 feared dead |
HAITI'S Prime Minister warned the death toll may top 100,000 in a calamitous earthquake which left streets strewn with corpses and thousands missing in a scene of utter carnage.

Hospitals collapsed, destroyed schools were full of dead people and the cries of trapped victims escaped from crushed buildings in the centre of the capital Port-au-Prince, which an Agence France-Presse correspondent said was "mostly destroyed".

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN the final death toll from the 7.0 quake could be "well over 100,000", as an international aid effort geared up in a race against time to pull survivors from the ruins.

16 UN staffers are confirmed dead and another 56 injured in the earthquake that flattened the UN mission's main headquarters in Port-au-Prince, a top UN official said. The number of UN personnel unaccounted for "is in the range of 150".

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Citing preliminary figures, Susana Malcorra, head of the UN department of Field Support, said the world body could confirm 14 fatalities among personnel of the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and 56 others injured.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has delivered a strong message of support for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

"We are with you," he declared. "We are working quickly - as fast as humanly possible."

He added: "Our response must be well coordinated. People need food, water and shelter. We need to find people trapped in the rubble."

He said US$10 million had been initially put forward for the relief effort.

There also remains concerns for a small number of missing Australians.

Mr Bellerive said he hoped to final death toll does not meet current estimates of more than 100,000.

"I hope that is not true, because I hope the people had the time to get out. Because we have so much people on the streets right now, we don't know exactly where they were living," Mr Bellerive said.

"But so many, so many buildings, so many neighbourhoods totally destroyed, and some neighbourhoods we don't even see people, so I don't know where those people are."

President Rene Preval painted a scene of complete destruction in his impoverished Caribbean nation after the quake struck yesterday.

"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," he told the Miami Herald.

"There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them," he said, as experts spoke of the worst quake to hit the disaster-prone nation in more than a century.

With hospitals also having crumbled in the fury of the quake, medical services were struggling to cope with the flow of wounded.

There are "tens of thousands of victims and considerable damage", Haiti's ambassador to the Organisation of American States Duly Brutus said.

A huge aid mission has now been launched.

"The most urgent need is to help the thousands of people who are still alive and trapped in the ruins," he added, saying the last quake of such magnitude to strike Haiti was in 1842.

Preval's wife, First Lady Elisabeth Preval, told the US Daily she had seen bodies in the streets of Port-au-Prince and had heard the cries of victims still trapped in the rubble of the parliament building.

"I'm stepping over dead bodies. A lot of people are buried under buildings. The general hospital has collapsed. We need support. We need help. We need engineers," she said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the capital, with its population of two million people had borne the brunt of the quake which struck at 4.53pm local time, saying vast areas had been destroyed.

While much of the rest of the impoverished Caribbean nation appeared largely unaffected, Mr Ban gave a grim assessment of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, saying the city's few basic services had collapsed.

"There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required," he told a press conference in the United Nations, as he prepared to visit Haiti as soon as possible.

The temblor toppled the cupola on the gleaming white presidential palace, a major hotel where 200 tourists were missing and the headquarters of the UN mission in Haiti where up to 250 personnel were unaccounted for.

Jordan reported that three of its peacekeepers were killed and 21 injured. Brazil said 11 of its peacekeepers died, while eight Chinese soldiers were buried in rubble and 10 were missing, state media said.

An Argentine-staffed hospital was the only one left operating in the city and was struggling to cope with huge numbers of injured, its director told Argentine television.

"The situation is really critical because we cannot cope with this many dead and injured," Daniel Desimone told Todo Noticias.

A major international relief operation was underway with the United States, France, Britain and Canada all promising help.

US President Barack Obama vowed a swift and aggressive effort to save lives and said search and rescue teams would arrive within hours after a "heartwrenching" earthquake.

"This tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible," he said.

The US military has mobilised ships, aircraft and expert teams.

Planeloads of rescue teams and relief supplies were quickly dispatched from nations including Britain, Canada, Russia, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia.

As well as virtually destroying Port-Au-Prince, the earthquake also caused widespread destruction in the resort town of Jacmel, south of the capital, a witness said, saying he saw an entire mountain almost collapsed.

Two hundred foreigners were missing at the Hotel Montana, French Secretary of State for Cooperation Alain Joyandet said.

Among the dead was the archbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Serge Miot the Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA) reported in Rome.