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In Washington, People Gather at Haiti Embassy to Pray for Victims

Haitians gather for candlelight vigil in front of Haitian Embassy in Washington DC, 13 Jan 2010

Candlelight vigils for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti have been taking place in the United States. In Washington, a crowd gathered at the Haiti's Embassy Wednesday night to offer prayers and appeal for international support.

Haiti's Embassy in Washington organized the vigil as Haitian immigrants waited for news about family and friends. They vowed to stay strong.

Philippe Lemaire says he has family in Haiti and came to show support for Haiti's people. "They have people who are here praying for them and hoping for the best," he said.

Medical and relief supplies from many countries have been arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince.

Bob Remy of the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee says he is grateful for the outpouring of support. "We're going to need a lot of help for days, months, weeks, even years to come," Remy said.

The embassy has become a center for local relief efforts and disseminating information.

Much of the phone service in Haiti is down and so getting information out has been a challenge.

Haiti's ambassador to Washington, Raymond Joseph, says Haiti asked for and is getting help from the U.S. State Department on restoring communication. "They sent in the technicians in Haiti and they are putting up a special communications system to help the government communicate with the people," Joseph explained.

Radio stations in Haiti, including some in the capital, are continuing to broadcast.

Voice of America's Creole Service has expanded programming to Haiti and is relaying messages from Haitians in the U.S. to their relatives.

Haitians are desperate to learn whether friends and relatives have survived. Jacques Jean Baptiste with VOA's Creole Service is among them. His 96 year old father lives close to the collapsed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. "I am waiting for the phone call that will arrive and ease my anguish," he stated.

And so are many others.