Monday, January 18, 2010

May Be 200,000 dead

Haiti quake toll 'may be 200,000'

The leading US general in Haiti has said it is a "reasonable assumption" that up to 200,000 people may have died in last Tuesday's earthquake.
Lt Gen Ken Keen said the disaster was of "epic proportions", but it was "too early to know" the full human cost.
Rescuers pulled more people alive from the rubble at the weekend, but at least 70,000 people have already had burials.
Relief efforts are being slowed by bottlenecks, and many thousands of survivors are fending for themselves.
Many Haitians are trying to leave the devastated capital city of Port-au-Prince, and there are security concerns amid reports of looting and violence.
“ Clearly, this is a disaster of epic proportions, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us ” Lt Gen Ken Keen

More than 2,000 US marines were expected to arrive in the region on 18 January to bolster US troops and UN peacekeepers already on the ground.
On Monday, European Union nations pledged more than 420m euros from the EU budget to assist Haiti, with about half the sum dedicated to emergency and short-term aid.
At least 200m euros ($287m; £176m) will be dedicated to funding medium- to long-term rebuilding efforts.
European ministers were also discussing deploying a security mission to help maintain law and order.
On Sunday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed to frustrated Haitians to be patient over efforts to bring them relief.
Gen Keen, running the US military relief effort, when asked about death toll estimates of between 150,000 and 200,000 people, said: "I think the international community is looking at those figures, and I think that's a start point.
"Clearly, this is a disaster of epic proportions, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Hope for more rescues
Amid the chaos and destruction, a number of people were rescued from collapsed buildings at the weekend.
Among the lucky ones was a seven-year-old girl pulled alive from the ruins of a supermarket.
At the UN headquarters destroyed in the earthquake, rescuers lifted a Danish staff member alive from the ruins, just 15 minutes after the secretary general visited the site.
And US teams with search dogs also found and rescued a 16-year-old Dominican girl trapped for five days in a small, three-storey hotel.
While hopes dim with every passing day, a South African rescue official, Colin Diner, told the BBC he hoped there would be more.
"What we are seeing is that the buildings have a whole lot of openings, collapsed voids and things, and that always gives you a better opportunity.
"We've got so many people killed and so many people trapped, the chances of some of them still being alive is pretty good."
Homeless throng streets
Correspondents say there is a sense of movement at last with the relief effort, although the amount of supplies getting through is still small.
The BBC's David Loyn says the streets of the capital are thronged with homeless people, sleeping in the open and walking for hours for what food and water is available.
Most of the food and water being given out is being distributed informally by local people, correspondents say.
Several agencies complained about not being able to get aid through at the airport, which is heavily congested and has been taken over by the US military.
Medecins Sans Frontieres urged commanders to speed up the landing of aeroplanes carrying medical supplies, after one carrying an inflatable field hospital was turned away on Saturday night.
The head of the US operation at the airport, Col Buck Elton, said there had been 600 take-offs and landings since the US took control on Wednesday, and 50 flights had been diverted.
US troops also said they had set up their first foothold outside the airport to deliver aid carried in by helicopters.
Speaking in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, Mr Ban called the situation in Haiti "one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades".

    *  37 UN staff confirmed dead, more than 300 missing
    *  Includes Special Representative Hedi Annabi, deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa and acting police commissioner Doug Coates
    *  UN HQ in the Christopher Hotel and other buildings collapsed in the quake
    *  Believed to be the biggest single loss of life in the UN's history
Mr Ban said he understood people's frustration, but that he did not want to see violence among desperate survivors.
"I appeal to the Haitian people to be more patient," he said.
He said providing daily food to two million people, as the UN has pledged, would be a "huge challenge".
"We need to make sure our help is getting to people who need it as fast as possible," Mr Ban added.
The UN has launched an appeal for $562m (£346m) intended to help three million people for six months, most of whom are thought to need emergency relief.
The British government is to treble its aid to Haiti to £20m ($37m). The move is to be formally announced at an emergency meeting of EU development ministers in Brussels on Monday.
Guantanamo 'hub'
The city's port is badly damaged, and many roads are still blocked by corpses and debris.
The Haitian and Dominican Republic governments are planning an alternative 130km (80 mile) humanitarian road corridor to deliver relief supplies from the southern Dominican town of Barahona, the UN said.
“ We need fuel to bring in supplies and carry the wounded ” Elisabeth Byrs UN spokeswoman

The UN has warned about fuel shortages, which it says could affect humanitarian operations.
It has also emerged that the US naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba - synonymous with the war on terror - is being used as a staging post for personnel and relief supplies heading to Haiti.
The BBC's Steve Kingstone, at the base, says it has capacity to house up to 10,000 people in tents. While there are no firm plans for that, US commanders say such an evacuation is feasible should it become necessary.
The US and Dutch authorities have said they are speeding up the process of flying orphaned children away from Haiti to adoptive parents abroad.
Six Haitian children adopted by Dutch families arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday and the justice ministry said it was expediting the adoption process and paperwork for about 100 others.
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Published: 2010/01/18 13:46:41 GMT


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