News / USA

Untold Numbers Still Trapped in Rubble of Worst Quake in Haitian History

Laurel Bowman

As untold numbers lay dead and or buried in the rubble of Haiti's worst earthquake ever, the impoverished nation is calling on the world to help.

It was a nation already vulnerable, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, with a history of lax construction.  The International Red Cross says the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti leaves close to a third of the population in need of emergency aid.  Thousands are feared dead.

"What I know is that Port-au-Prince has been destroyed beginning with the palace, which is a very solid building.  If the place itself is hit that hard imagine what happens to the flimsy abodes hanging by the flanks, the sides of hills surrounding Port-au-Prince.  It's going to be a major catastrophe," said Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph.

Joseph is calling for up to quadruple the amount of U.S. aid to his country, which now stands at about $300 million. He calls on the international community to help as well.

"Because the way it is, Port-au-Prince has to be rebuilt," he added.  "And I think a lot of the shanty towns that were crushed should not be rebuilt in Port-Au-Prince. Decentralized."

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama promised a full-scale humanitarian effort.

"I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives," he said.

The United Nations said Wednesday that more than 100 people are missing from its wrecked headquarters. 

"The U.N. Headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake," said Mr. Ban.  "Many people are still trapped inside."

Meantime, aid from around the world is bound for Haiti on its way from a range of countries including Iceland, China and Israel.

"We are heading to Haiti together with the first delegation of the Army's Home Front Command so we can examine how Israel can help in this terrible tragedy," said Danny Saaban of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

People have sent their donations to various relief organizations and their prayers, including the Pope.

"I assure my spiritual closeness to those who have lost their homes, and to all the people who are suffering in various ways for this calamity," said Pope Benedict.

The United Nations reports that the main airport in Haiti's capital is operational and open to relief flights in the coming days.

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