Pattaya Daily News

14 January 2010 :: 07:01:11 am 6744

Over 100,000 Feared Dead in Haiti Quake

Officials fear more than 100,000 people have died as a result of Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
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Haiti’s consul general to the U.N., Felix Augustin said, he believed more than 100,000 people were dead. Hospitals are gone, and medical supplies and heavy equipment are desperately needed, he said. The country’s prime minister said the death toll could be in the hundreds of thousands.

President Rene Preval said he heard reports of death tolls ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 — but he said the true toll is not yet known.He said the country desperately needs medical help.”Some of the hospitals, they have collapsed, “We need some hospitals, some medicine and some doctors.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, CNN’s Gary Tuchman described the devastation as “horrifying and disturbing.” He said block after block after block, there was not one building and there also were bodies everywhere, he said, adding there were 12 bodies on one block alone.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away.

The earthquake’s power matched that of several nuclear bombs, said Roger Searle, a professor of geophysics in the Earth Sciences Department at Durham University in England. He said the combination of its magnitude and geographical shallowness made it particularly dangerous.

About 3 million people — one-third of Haiti’s population — were affected by the quake, the Red Cross estimated. About 10 million people felt shaking from the earthquake, including 2 million who felt severe trembling, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated.

President Obama said the U.S. would have a “swift, coordinated and aggressive” response.

“The reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching,” Obama said.

Aid groups scrambled to help.

None of the three aid centers run by Doctors Without Borders is operable, the group said, and the organization is focusing on re-establishing surgical capacity so it can deal with the crushed limbs and head wounds it is seeing.

Authorities braced for civil disturbances.

Edmond Mulet, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told CNN that the National Penitentiary collapsed and the inmates escaped, prompting worries about looting by escapees.

Built in 1915, the prison was overcrowded. Enlarged to a total capacity of 1,200, it held 3,908 inmates in December, the U.S. State Department has said.

The earthquake sheared huge slabs of concrete off structures and pancaked scores of them, trapping people inside those buildings, and knocking down phone and power lines.

A worker at a youth ministry said he was on the second floor of a two-story building, and there were many children on the first floor, when the quake hit.

“Everything was flying everywhere and we ran downstairs and we started grabbing kids, four or five of them at a time, and just throwing them to the door. All of the houses around us totally collapsed and not one was left standing, but the one that we’re in … is still standing and every one of us are alive and nobody’s hurt,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake, and that people were still trapped inside. He said possibly 100 or 150 people were in the building around the time the quake struck. He said the chief of the U.N. mission in Haiti and a deputy special representative had not been accounted for.

At least 15 peacekeepers were reported to have died. The Brazilian army said 11 of its soldiers were killed, while state-run media in Jordan reported the deaths of three Jordanian peacekeepers. The Argentine military confirmed the death of one peacekeeper from Argentina.

Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, died in the quake, according to the official Vatican newspaper. Also among the dead were 100 priests and aspiring priests, said Papal Nuncio Bernardito Auza, speaking to the Vatican’s Fides news agency, which is owned by the Roman Catholic Church.

A religious conference was under way when the quake occurred, he said. “There were priests and nuns in the street. Everywhere, you heard cries from beneath the rubble.”

The presidential palace in Port-au-Prince was in ruins. Preval, Haiti’s president, said he did not know where he was going to sleep Wednesday night. “I have plenty of time to look for a bed,” he said late in the afternoon. “But now I am working on how to rescue the people. Sleeping is not the problem.”

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, hospital for further treatment.

Cheryl Mills, counselor to the secretary of state and the driving force behind Haiti policy formulation at the U.S. State Department, said about 80 embassy spouses, children and non-essential personnel planned to leave Wednesday afternoon.

Obama urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to telephone the State Department at 888-407-4747.

Are you looking for loved ones?

Haiti’s main airport appeared to be operable, which should enable foreign aid to start flowing into the country, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday.

The U.S. military is working to get ground and air assessments of the damage. Two Coast Guard cutters were off Port-au-Prince Wednesday afternoon, one of which was providing air traffic control for the airport, where the control tower was damaged, U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Florida, said.

Military airplanes and choppers were deploying to the scene, and Navy ships were getting ready to go.

Many countries and agencies across the globe geared up to help Haiti. A 50-member Chinese rescue team planned to deploy, Xinhua news agency said, and Ban said the U.N. plans to release $10 million in aid immediately.

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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