- Title: Rescuers race to find Haiti quake survivors as tropic storm looms
- Date: 16th August 2021
- Summary: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (AUGUST 15, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF HAITI CIVIL PROTECTION DIRECTOR, JERRY CHANDLER, TALKING TO REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) HAITI CIVIL PROTECTION DIRECTOR, JERRY CHANDLER, SAYING: "We are bracing for tropical storm Grace that is coming probably in 24 hours or less. So, we have to have a contingency (plan). So, we can address the people that out of fear stay out of their houses and sleep out on the streets. From that perspective, there have been a lot of efforts in terms of response." CHANDLER TALKING TO REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) HAITI CIVIL PROTECTION DIRECTOR, JERRY CHANDLER, SAYING: "Because of the nature of the disaster, it is an earthquake, we have many patients, and we have seen many patients that were trauma patients. We are talking about orthopaedic patients and surgical traumas patients, that's for one. So they had to be addressed urgently, some of them have to be transferred and moved from their locality to more specialised facilities in Port-Au-Prince or elsewhere." WORKERS FROM CIVIL PROTECTION ARRIVING AT NATIONAL AIRPORT VARIOUS OF VEHICLE CARRYING WORKERS FROM CIVIL PROTECTION ARRIVING AT AIRPORT (SOUNDBITE) (English) HAITI CIVIL PROTECTION DIRECTOR, JERRY CHANDLER, SAYING: "We have our first convoy that actually hit the road and crossed the area of Martissant. This area is notorious because of the gang violence that has been going on there. We have managed to get through and get our first convoy out. So, now we are working on establishing, you know, a real open access road via Martissant. We also use alternative means of transports. We have been using, we started using boats so we can ferry cargo, we have also been using helicopters and airplanes that have been put at our disposal by the international community so we can transport personnel." MEMBERS OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZED RELIEF EFFORTS (CORE) AT AIRPORT DOCTOR OF CORE, FLORIS NESI, TALKING TO REPORTER MEMBERS OF CORE AT AIRLINE COUNTER LUGGAGE LYING ON GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOCTOR OF CORE, FLORIS NESI, SAYING: "I think it is worse now because the economic situation is really bad for the people, and the political situation, and you know the security part also. We need to assist people more than then previous earthquake." CORE LOGO MEMBERS OF CORE AT AIRLINE COUNTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE IN HAITI, BRUNO MAES, SAYING: "So, in UNICEF, we are really calling and advocating for a humanitarian corridor in Haiti to allow quicker and safer transfer of goods and people to the south. We are really advocating for armed groups to allow this humanitarian aid to go to reach the people as soon as possible," VARIOUS OF WORKERS FROM CIVIL PROTECTION AT AIRLINE COUNTER
- Embargoed: 30th August 2021 00:31
- Keywords: Haiti Les Cayes disaster earthquake storm
- Location: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI
- City: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,South America / Central America,Earthquakes/Volcanoes/Tsunami
- Reuters ID: LVA001EQE59AF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The death toll from a devastating earthquake in Haiti rose to 1,297 on Sunday (August 15) as neighboring countries rushed to send aid and rescuers scrambled to find survivors buried beneath the rubble before a tropical storm hits.
The 7.2 magnitude quake on Saturday (August 14) destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in a Caribbean nation which is still clawing its way back from another major temblor 11 years ago and is reeling from the assassination of its president last month.
Southwestern Haiti bore the brunt of the blow, especially in the region in and around the town of Les Cayes. Haiti's Civil Protection Agency said the toll from the disaster had climbed to 1,297 and the hospitals that were still functioning were struggling to cope with some 5,700 injured people registered so far.
The challenge facing Haiti has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, a severe economic downturn aggravated by fierce gang violence, and a political crisis that has engulfed the troubled nation after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Churches, hotels, hospitals and schools were badly damaged or destroyed, while the walls of a prison were rent open by the violent shudders that convulsed Haiti.
In Les Cayes, a seafront town of some 90,000 people, rescuers in red hard hats and blue overalls pulled bodies from the tangled wreckage of one building, as a yellow mechanical excavator nearby helped to shift the rubble.
Nearby countries, including the Dominican Republic and Mexico, rushed to send desperately needed food and medicines by air and across Haiti's land border.
The United States dispatched vital supplies and deployed a 65-person urban search-and-rescue team with specialized equipment, said Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
However, Haiti's government appealed to aid organizations against setting up makeshift camps and urged them to work through the planning ministry, an apparent attempt to avoid the mistakes made following the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.
Many Haitians spent Saturday night sleeping in the open, traumatized by memories of that magnitude 7 quake 11 years ago that struck far closer to the sprawling capital, Port-au-Prince.
At Port-au-Prince airport, international aid workers, doctors and rescue workers waited to board flights to Les Cayes. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter ferried the wounded.
The rescue and aid efforts will be complicated by Tropical Storm Grace, which is expected to lash Haiti with heavy rainfall on Monday. Some parts of Haiti are also at risk of flash floods, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
"We are bracing for Tropical Storm Grace," the Civil Protection Agency's Chandler told Reuters.
Thousands of people sleeping in the streets would be exposed to the torrential rains amid a rising risk of water-borne diseases, he said.
Chandler said boats and helicopters were being used to bring in aid but the government was working to establish safe access by road. A first convoy of aid had made it through by land to the region of Les Cayes where, he said, several hospitals had been badly damaged.
A "humanitarian corridor" through Haiti's gang-infested areas should be established so aid can flow to the southern regions hit by a powerful earthquake, a U.N. official said on Sunday.
The United Nations and the Haitian government have struggled to send medical supplies and doctors by road to the town of Les Cayes, which bore the brunt of the damage, due to security concerns. Instead, they have been using boats and air transport.
A spike in kidnappings and gang violence has left some roads in Port-au-Prince dangerous to drive on, including the urban area of Martissant, home to the main thoroughfare linking the coastal capital with the southern regions.
Bruno Maes, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Haiti, said the U.N. was "calling for a humanitarian corridor in Haiti to allow quicker and safer transfer of goods and people."
"We are really advocating for armed groups to allow this humanitarian aid to go to reach the people as soon as possible," Maes told Reuters.
UNICEF has managed to send one container with medical supplies to southern Haiti but the agency and many other aid organizations need to dispatch much more help to Les Cayes and surrounding areas, Baes said.
Head of Haiti's Civil Protection Agency, said the authorities were working on providing access through Martissant but for the time being the government was sending most of the help by helicopters, planes and boats.
"Now we're working on establishing a real open access road via Martissant," Chandler said.
Reports on social media, including an interview with a purported gang leader, suggested the armed groups had called a truce and would let aid pass, though so far there has been no confirmation of this.
(Production: Herbert Villarraga, Robenson Sanon, Liamar Ramos)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None