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January 12, 2013

Haiti Marks 3rd Anniversary of Devastating Earthquake

by VOA News

Haiti has marked the third anniversary of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left more than a million others homeless.

Haitian President Michel Martelly Saturday led the small Caribbean nation in remembering the victims at a ceremony on the grounds of the presidential palace.  The palace was demolished last year after lying in ruins for more than two years following the January 12, 2010 quake.

"Haiti people, hand in hand, we remember what is gone.  Hand in hand, we remember, we remember January 12."

President Martelly also announced a new building code aimed at strengthening the country's ability to withstand earthquakes.

​​Later, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, joined the Haitian president for a wreath-laying ceremony at a mass burial site on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"I think that you will see particularly in the economic sphere a lot more in the coming year, where Haiti is projected to have the highest growth rate in the Caribbean," Clinton said.

"But we have to speed up some of the infrastructure.  We have to repair the agriculture.  We've got to build more houses.  We've got to get people out of those tents."

Three years after the quake, tens of thousands of people still live in squalor in makeshift camps around the capital.

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Recovery efforts have been slow to take hold because of a paralyzed government, the nation's inadequate infrastructure and other factors, such as a drought, Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy last year.  Less than half of the several billion dollars pledged by donors has been raised and distributed.

In addition, a cholera epidemic following the quake claimed several thousand more lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.