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___ Earthquake in Haiti
Haiti was hit on Tuesday 12.01.10 by a massive earthquake and official fears 100,000 dead and some three million displaced.Haiti is situated on the western part of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Greater Antilles and the most populous island in the Americas. Haiti is until today, afflicted with the consequences of its history. The country is among the poorest nations, it is Third World in many aspects with decades of poverty, environmental degradation, violence, instability, brutal dictatorships, and a more than ailing infrastructure. The country lacks of almost everything that is needed for a stable society. The UN has described the human rights situation as "catastrophic".
This is the scenario where on Tuesday 12.01.10 a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the country. The center of the quake was approximately 25 kilometers (16 mi) southwest of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, and has hit especially the city with more than 3 million people living in the area.
Meanwhile first reports from the epicentre of the earthquake suggest the damage is even more dramatic than in the capital. The BBC's Mark Doyle in Leogane, west of Port-au-Prince, described the scene as "apocalyptic", with thousands left homeless and almost every building destroyed.
A UN official has said aid workers are dealing with a disaster "like no other" in UN memory because the country had been "decapitated".
Help is underway but many obstacles for the helpers are set.
Relief supplies and emergency response teams have been pouring into Haiti, but desperate survivors say not enough aid is reaching them.
Port-au-Prince's small Toussaint Louverture International Airport, located north of the city, is struggling to cope with the number of aid flights arriving, but military cargo planes have been getting in. There are 50 planes jostling for space on the tarmac at any given time, officials say.
The airport's control tower and radar are down. The US military took over air traffic control, and the Haitian government has now formally put the airport's operation in US hands.
The airport has only one runway, limited space to park arriving aircraft, and inadequate capacity to unload cargo. Even once goods are unloaded, there are not enough vehicles or fuel to transport them to cities across the country. The UN is arranging to fly in more trucks to aid with distribution efforts.
Planes were left circling for hours, and fuel was running out for departing planes.
Many victims are still not receiving any aid, as the airport remains a bottleneck. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Kim Bolduc says getting supplies out to them from the planes is still a major hurdle.
The main port in Port-au-Prince is closed to cargo ships due to severe damage to the docks and the one major crane at the facility.
The US aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, has arrived off Haiti's shores carrying 19 helicopters. It will serve as a "floating airport" for relief operations. Flights started operating off its deck on Friday morning.
The US is also sending three amphibious assault ships and several Coast Guard cutters.
Some roads are impassable. Others are blocked by rubble and smashed cars, while there are many people too scared to go back into their damaged homes. Other land routes have been destroyed, cutting aid agencies off from their warehouses.
Roads to the neighboring Dominican Republic have been damaged, but they are open and are being used to some extent.
Engineers from the UN peacekeeping mission (Minustah) have begun clearing some of the major roads.
The Haitian and Dominican Republic governments are planning an alternative 130km (80 miles) humanitarian road corridor to deliver relief supplies from the southern Dominican town of Barahona, the UN reports.
Among the biggest obstacles to the flow of aid from the Dominican Republic are the fears over security; legitimate concerns given the desperation that is growing along the route. Only two major convoys are leaving the border each day, always under military escort and never after dark. The plan is that over the next week the UN, with the help of the US military, will secure a humanitarian corridor from the border in preparation for stage two of the aid operation.
There have been scuffles, looting and gunshots in the capital, along with attempts to hijack aid trucks, youths roaming the streets of the devastated Haitian capital with machetes. The World Food Programme initially said its warehouses had been looted, but the organization later denied this. However, some food stores in the city have been looted. Some rescue crews said they were forced to stop work at nightfall due to security concerns.
No-one in charge, the president is sleeping at the airport. Responsibility for maintaining law and order in the capital has fallen completely to the UN mission's 3,000 international troops and police.
Haiti has no army and its police forces have all but collapsed in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Some 5,000 US relief troops are focused on saving lives, but could be called on to keep order if security deteriorates, officials said.
The water supply in Haiti has mostly been cut off. Aid groups have been distributing bottled water and water purification tablets in some areas, but the vast majority are without drinking water.
Several truckloads of bottled water are on their way from the Dominican Republic.
The USS Carl Vinson, docked off Haiti's shores, is fitted with water-purifying equipment that can make 400,000 gallons (1.8m liters) of drinking water a day.
Other countries have sent mobile water purification units, which can convert contaminated water from wells and streams into drinking water.
The UN has set up 15 distribution points around the capital to distribute food. It will consist of high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals. The agency is also arranging safe storage points for food supplies.
The World Food Programme is feeding 8,000 people per day, and is gearing up to serve one million people within 15 days and two million within a month. The markets outside Port-au-Prince did have food, fruit and water, but supplies are precariously low and basic commodities are getting ever more expensive.
The presidential palace, the parliament and many government buildings have collapsed, hampering an already weak central government.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the agency is coordinating relief work with Haitian President Rene Preval, and that government agencies, including the police services, are now regrouping.
The UN mission has set up an operations center at the airport to co-ordinate the work of around 24 international search and rescue teams.
But several relief agencies' offices, including the UN's, are damaged and their staff dead or missing. Co-ordination efforts are also being hampered by frequent power cuts and communications outages.
One week after the quake and the initial flow of aid, the bigger aid agencies are waiting until the logistics are in place to send more supplies overland. This is hugely frustrating for the workers of smaller agencies who say they are more mobile yet under-utilised.
"The corporate donors have to trust us," said one. "We have the means and the intelligence on the ground to do more."
Helicopters are ferrying some of the wounded to hospitals in nearby countries (20 helicopters for about 2 million people; so you get the picture) as hospitals in Haiti are ill-equipped to deal with the injured, many of whom have broken bones and serious loss of blood.
Field hospitals are also being set up by teams from Russia and Israel.
A hospital ship from the US is expected to arrive in Haiti on Wednesday (20 Jan.). By now they exercise role-play, preparing the medics for the flood of patients who will be helicoptered in from the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vincent and from triage centers (triage: the process of deciding how seriously ill/sick or injured a person is) in Port-au-Prince. Once anchored, the USNS Comfort will effectively be the only fully operating hospital in the country.
On Saturday 23. January the search for survivors ended officially and the focus has shifted to aid.
Until then the confirmed death toll had risen above 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince area alone, an estimated 1.5 million people have been left homeless.
Aid workers have criticised Haitian government plans to relocate hundreds of thousands of people from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to large camps outside the city, the move could be dangerous for the survivors. "In the past, experience has told us establishing some huge camps can cause all kinds of security problems, for example, robberies, rapes and kind of gang activities if the camps are kept too big", an Oxfam speaker told the BBC.
Source: BBC and others
The Haitian National Palace (Presidential Palace) heavily damaged after the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
(this was originally a two-story structure; the second story completely collapsed.)
destroyed government facilities in Port-au-Prince
earthquake victims in body bags
Port-au-Prince’s ill-equipped hospitals are struggling to cope with the injured and the dead, medical personnel were seen leaving in droves Friday night from a makeshift hospital in Port-au-Prince after being told by U.N. officials to get out of the area.There is concern about riots not far from here.
youths with machetes roaming the streets of the devastated Haitian capital.
Searchable Satellite View and Map of Port-au-Prince (capital city)
Searchable Satellite View and Map of Haiti
Political Map of Haiti
Haiti Country Profile
Searchable Satellite View and Map of Dominican Republic
Map of Central America and the Caribbean
Reference Map of Central America and the Caribbean.
Messages from Haiti
CNN.com's iReport page.
Yahoo News - Haiti Earthquake
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