Rescue efforts continue in Haiti

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Port-Au-Prince - Rescue efforts continued in Haiti on Saturday as the international community has been mobilized to provide the earthquake survivors with medical assistance and other humanitarian aid.

In the first three days after the magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck on Tuesday, aid workers spared no efforts to find any signs of life.

A number of people have been saved from the rubble of Haiti's capital city but in most cases, more bodies were pulled out of the rubbles.

The latest UN and Red Cross estimate is that 100 000 died and three million were made homeless by the quake, in the West Hemisphere's poorest nation, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

United Nations spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the earthquake destroyed 90 percent of Leogane, the municipality 30 kilometers west of Haiti's capital that was the epicenter of the quake,

Between 40 percent and 50 percent of buildings collapsed in nearby towns Carrefour, population 334 000; and Gressier, 25 000.

Some 27 rescue teams from a variety of nations including China are now working intensively in these areas.

However, the rescue work remains difficult because of scarce transport, communication and fuel.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that it would take days to get the death toll, but the figure could be "very high."

Rescue workers and humanitarian aid continued to arrive in Haiti but many of the capital's three million people remained without access to food, water, shelter and electricity.

Ban said in a telephone conversation with Haitian President Rene Preval that all relevant UN agencies had moved to deploy rescue work and the World Food Program has been distributing food to quake victims.

Ban said the UN had launched an urgent appeal for 550 million US dollars.

Ban will travel on Sunday to Haiti, spokesman Martin Nesirky told Xinhua on Friday.

"He would visit Haiti on Sunday to show his solidarity with the people of Haiti and UN staff, and to assess the humanitarian assistance effort and the scale of the disaster for himself," the spokesman said.

Other countries including South Africa, Cuba, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Finland, Lebanon, Poland, Brazil, United States, Germany, have also offered relief funds, goods and materials or sent rescue teams.