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Haiti says 150,000 bodies recovered in capital

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Jan 25, 2010
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    U.S., Brazilian troops hand out food in Cite Soleil

    [​IMG]Haitians watch as workers remove rubble Sunday in Port-au-Prince.
    [​IMG] View related photos
    Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

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    [​IMG]updated 11:32 a.m. ET Jan. 24, 2010

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The confirmed death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake has topped 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area alone, the communications minister said Sunday, with many more thousands dead around the country or still buried under the rubble.
    Communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue told The Associated Press that the figure is based on a body count in the capital and outlying areas by CNE, a state company that has been collecting corpses and burying them in a mass grave north of Port-au-Prince. It does not include other affected cities such as Jacmel, where thousands are believed dead, nor does it account for bodies burned by relatives.
    The United Nations said Saturday the government had confirmed 111,481 bodies; all told, authorities have estimated 200,000 dead from the magnitude-7.0 quake, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission.

    "Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble — 200,000, 300,000?" Lassegue said. "Who knows the overall death toll?"
    Experts say chances are slim that more survivors will be found in that debris, although rescuers pulled a man buried for 11 days in the wreckage on Saturday.
    Crews dug a tunnel through the rubble of a fruit and vegetable shop to reach Wismond Exantus, who is in his 20s. He was placed on a stretcher and given intravenous fluids as onlookers cheered, and later told the AP he survived by diving under a desk during the quake and later consuming some cola, beer and cookies in the cramped space.
    "I was hungry, but every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive," Exantus said from his hospital bed.
    Haiti's government has declared an end to searches for living people trapped under debris, and officials are shifting their focus to caring for the thousands of survivors living in squalid, makeshift camps.
    U.N. relief workers said the shift is critical: While deliveries of food, medicine and water have ticked up after initial logjams, the need continues to be overwhelming and doctors fear outbreaks of disease in the camps.
    In the notorious slum of Cite Soleil, the site of some looting and violence since the quake, U.S. and Brazilian soldiers handed out food and water Sunday morning to thousands of men, women and children who lined up at a health center.

    The U.S. soldiers brought 2,000 food rations, 75,000 high-energy biscuits and 9,000 bottles of water, while the Brazilians had 8 tons of food in small bags of uncooked beans, salt, sugar and sardines, as well as 15,000 liters of water.‘We need more’
    Lunie Marcelin, 57, said her entire family — including six grown children who live with her — survived the quake, but they had no money to buy food.
    The handouts "will help us, but it is not enough," she said. "We need more."
    In the United States, organizers of the all-star "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon said Saturday that the event raised $57 million — and counting. The two-hour telethon aired Friday night and was also streamed live online. Stars such as Brad Pitt, Beyonce, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and more used their presence to encourage donations for Haiti.
    As many as 200,000 people have fled Port-au-Prince, a city of 2 million, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. About 609,000 people are homeless in the capital's metro area, and the United Nations estimates that up to 1 million could leave Haiti's destroyed cities for rural areas already struggling with extreme poverty.
    The U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday it has recordehttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34928950/ns/world_news-haiti_earthquake/d 52 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater since the Jan. 12 quake.
  2. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Jan 25, 2010
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    By foot and bus, Haitians return to native towns

    Government hopes disaster will set course for reverse migration to country

    [​IMG]Ricardo Arduengo / AP
    Marguerite Dorival, 45, right, moved from Port-au-Prince along with her family after the earthquake to Cabaret.
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    CABARET, Haiti - Barefoot and limping from a fall suffered during last week's earthquake, Marguerite Dorival walked 20 miles from the capital to her ancestral home, leaving behind apocalyptic scenes of bodies trapped in rubble for the tranquility of her plantain-growing farm.
    She doubts she will ever return, she said, sitting under a mango tree buzzing with humming birds, a dog lounging beside her.
    "What is most important to me is that God gave me a chance to make it back alive. We struggled to get here, but now I'm with my family. I'm glad we are well," said Dorival, a 45-year-old farmer.
    With the capital of Port-au-Prince largely flattened by the 7.0-magnitude quake that killed an estimated 200,000 people and left many more homeless, the government is encouraging Haitians to undertake a sort of reverse migration back to the countryside, where grinding poverty led them to seek out a better life in urban slums in the first place.
    Authorities are offering free transportation to those who wish to leave, and so far more than 130,000 people have taken them up on the offer. Ultimately, the United Nations expects as many as many as 1 million Haitians — or one-ninth of the country's population — will flee Port-au-Prince and other damaged cities for the country.
    Wrecked and weary
    An untold number, like Dorival, have already left under their own power. She never did find work in Port-au-Prince after moving there a year ago so that a niece could go to nursing school.
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    Along with her 14-year-old son and a cousin, they lived in a single room on the second story of an apartment building that partially collapsed on Jan. 12. When the building began to crumble, Dorival clung to the metal bars of a window. But they buckled, the floor was rocking underfoot and a water tank knocked her down 28 steps of the staircase.
    Dorival's 29-year-old cousin, Eliasen Saint, was buried in the rubble and is believed dead. The rest of the family escaped and spent the first night with tens of thousands other newly homeless on the downtown Champs de Mars plaza, opposite the ruins of the National Palace.
    The following morning they set out on foot walking National Route 1, passing rows of downed warehouses and homes. The destruction diminished as they reached mountains with the sides hollowed out, chalky white caverns where workers excavated material to make the concrete homes that collapsed.
    They trudged on with nothing to eat or drink under the burning Caribbean sun, the road choked with other refugees. Dorival particularly struggled, having hurt her hip and leg in the fall.
    As the sun began to set, they turned down a dirt path lined with plantain trees that leads to the family home: a small yellow concrete building topped by a corrugated tin roof. The outhouse was no more, but the house was intact.
    No rest
    Nobody dares sleep indoors for fear of aftershocks, however. The family of 11 spends nights outside under a tent erected around back.
    Cabaret itself sustained little damage; some homes cracked, none collapsed. Standing intact is the circular pit where the town holds the cock fights that made it famous.
    Dorival, in a white lace blouse, khaki pants and mismatched socks, said she will likely spend the rest of her life in this city of 80,000.
    "This is a little town. I feel more comfortable here," she said.

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    According to the U.N., the largest post-quake population shift has been to the Artibonite district, a rice-growing area north of the capital that is now home to at least 50,000 reverse migrants.
    But the hundreds of thousands fleeing the cities are returning to a region under tremendous economic pressure: 80 percent of country residents live on less than $1 a day, according to U.N. statistics.
    And Dorival noted that with Haiti's government so centralized, life will inevitably bring her back to the scene of her nightmare at least occasionally.
    "Everything is concentrated in Port-au-Prince. If you need an ID card, it's in the capital. Anything you need is in the capital," she said. "But I don't know if it's ever going to be safe again."