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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Disster Awareness:Haiti quake ‘worst disaster ever’

Port au Prince: Predictions of the death toll from the Haitian earthquake have risen to 200,000 as mounting desperation at lack of aid threatens to tilt the country into anarchy. 

    With up to three million survivors still cut off from outside rescue efforts, the United Nations said the disaster was the worst it had ever dealt with. 
    Aid officials fear a lapse into all-out lawlessness in coming days unless US troops can get through with vital food, medicine and water deliveries, which are being hampered by the sheer scale of devastation. There were continued incidents of looting, and isolated reports of rescue workers being stoned by angry crowds. 
    The UN's warning came as the full picture of the horror in the flattened capital of Port au Prince emerged. Haitian ministers claimed the body count could rise far beyond the 50,000 estimate made by the Red Cross officials on Friday, saying that 50,000 bodies had already been buried. 
    Trucks piled high with corpses delivered them to mass graves outside the stricken city, with thousands more still lying uncollected on the streets or 
buried under heavy rubble. 
    "We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies," said interior minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime. "We anticipate there will be between 100,000
and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number." 
    If that casualty count is confirmed, it would make Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake one of the ten deadliest on record. The death toll would also rival that of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed roughly 250,000 lives. 
    A critical concern on Sunday was the rapidly diminishing supplies of fuel for vehicles, and the UN was looking for new sources, said UN spokesman Elisabeth Byrs. As of Saturday some 250 tonnes of relief goods, ranging from water to field hospitals, had arrived in Port-au-Prince and distribution to people on the ground was starting to improve slightly. She said aid was coming through the Port-au-Prince airport, the seaport at Gonaives, Santo Domingo's airport and seaport in the Dominican Republic, as well as two small private airports in the neighbouring country. 
    Experts are moving to clear damage from Port-au-Prince's seaport so that it can be used as well. Telephone systems remain damaged, and telecommunications continue very difficult for Haitians and relief workers, Byrs said. AGENCIES

FLAMING ANGER: A man accused of looting is burnt alive by a mob in Petionville


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