News / Americas

Haiti Earthquake Displaces 300,000

In its first estimate, the United Nations reports about 10 percent of the housing in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, leaving some 300,000 people homeless. The UN says a full assessment of the damages inflicted by the powerful earthquake will take several days to complete.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein

In its first estimate, the United Nations reports about 10 percent of the housing in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, leaving some 300,000 people homeless.  The UN says a full assessment of the damages inflicted by the powerful earthquake will take several days to complete.

The United Nations says some 3.5 million people are living in areas affected by the earthquake. Nearly three million are in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which was most seriously affected. 

Aid agencies say it is too soon to know how many people were killed and injured. But, they say it is sure to be in the tens of thousands. 

In the meantime, a helicopter assessment of the stricken area has found 50 percent of some areas have been destroyed or seriously damaged, with many buildings completely collapsed.

A U.N. spokeswoman, Elizabeth Byrs, says a coordination center has been set up near the airport to oversee the increasingly complex humanitarian operation.  And, she says a reception center has been set up at the airport to help coordinate the many incoming teams and humanitarian aid.

In addition, she says an air bridge is being established with the Dominican Republic from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince.

"Another shuttle will be put in place, established by the peacekeeping forces - a shuttle with airplanes with the capacity of between 30 and 40 passengers," she said. 

The World Food Program and International Organization for Migration report they distributed food and non-food items Thursday to 4,000 survivors in Port-au-Prince. They will continue with the emergency distribution today, Friday.

World Food Program spokeswoman, Emilia Casella, says WFP's warehouses have been seriously damaged but food stocks appear to be intact. In any case, she says that the food in the warehouses is not appropriate for the current needs.

She says people caught in the earthquake are unable to cook and require ready-to-eat foods.

"What the World Food Program is now looking at is aiming to reach initially about two million people who are affected by Tuesday's earthquake with an emergency operation that will start by calling for 14 million humanitarian daily rations which would be enough to feed two million people for about 30 days," she said. 

Thousands of corpses are strewn along the streets of Port-au-Prince and environs. A World Health Organization spokesman, Paul Garwood, says collecting and disposing of the corpses is of primary concern.

"The presence of dead bodies in a community does not pose a public health risk," he noted. "That has got to be stressed and made clear. There has been inaccurate reporting to that fact… At the same time, there is an obvious psycho-social mental health aspect to this. People do not want to see this. And, if you are a family member of someone who has passed away, anyone seeing this kind of tragedy has to be responded to. We work with that kind of urgency." 

Garwood says the scale of this disaster is overwhelming.  He says there is an urgent need for more body bags so laying the corpses to rest is done in an appropriate way.

He says WHO does not recommend mass graves.  Rather, in cases where there are large numbers of bodies, he says WHO advises that bodies be placed in shallow ditches.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More