Saturday, January 16, 2010
A story from Haiti - Haiti earthquake survivors get more food and water...
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Precious water, food and early glimmers of hope began reaching parched and hungry earthquake survivors Saturday on the streets of the ruined Haitian capital, but the island's despair threatened to spark a frenzy in places.
"People are so desperate for food that they are going crazy," said accountant Henry Ounche, standing in a crowd of hundreds who fought one another as U.S. military helicopters clattered overhead carrying aid.
Across the hilly, steamy city, people choked on the stench of death, and hope faded by the hour for finding many more victims alive in the rubble, four days after Tuesday's catastrophic earthquake.
Still, here and there, the murmur of buried victims spurred rescue crews on, even as aftershocks threatened to finish off crumbling buildings.
"No one's alive in there," a woman sobbed outside the wrecked Montana Hotel.
But hope wouldn't die. "We can hear a survivor!" search crew chief Alexander Luque of Namibia later reported. His men dug on.
Nobody knew how many were dead. In a fresh estimate, the Pan American Health Organization said 50,000 to 100,000 people perished in the quake. Haiti's prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told The Associated Press that 100,000 would "seem to be the minimum." Truckloads of corpses were being trundled to mass graves.
A U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman declared the quake the worst disaster the international organization has ever faced, since so much government and U.N. capacity in the country was demolished. In that way, Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva, it's worse than the cataclysmic Asian tsunami of 2004: "Everything is damaged."
Acknowledgements: Associated Press