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Haitian government calls off search, rescue

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

A woman cries during a funeral service for Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot and Vicar General Charles at the cathedral in Port-au-Prince, yesterday. Mourners began gathering near the ruins of the shattered cathedral to pay final respects to the capital's archbishop and vicar general in a somber ceremony that doubled as a symbolic funeral for all the dead.


A HAMSTRUNG Haitian govern-ment yesterday ended the search-and-rescue phase of the earthquake-relief effort.

The announcement came after two persons were pulled from the rubble in the capital city, Port-au-Prince.

At least 132 people had been rescued from rubble after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the impoverished country over a week ago.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade has assisted in the recovery of seven persons.

On Friday, 84-year-old Marie Carida Roman was dug from the remains of her home by her son and neighbours with bare hands.

A 22-year-old man was also rescued by an Israeli team on the same day.

The Haitian Interior Ministry has said the death toll has surpassed 110,000. The ministry said nearly 200,000 people were injured and more than 600,000 were left homeless after the quake hit the small Caribbean nation on January 12.

Haitian officials estimated that the final death toll could reach 200,000.

In the meantime, Haitians have poured into the streets in search of relief items. The signs of desperation are painted on many foreheads, while many others appear resigned to their fate.

When The Sunday Gleaner team journeyed though sections of the city on Friday, we had to hustle through a section of rubble-filled streets as gun fire rang out not far away.

In other sections of the city, men, women and children were seen digging into collapsed buildings, recovering pieces of blocks, steel and zinc.

"These people are now in survival mode," one Jamaican expatriate commented while expressing concern that Haiti's problems could be further compounded if foreign countries pulled out without putting in place proper governance and a social structure.

"I hope they don't leave anytime soon, or else Haiti will be in even worse problems," the expatriate commented.

Pledged return

While it will require a super-effort to rebuild Haiti, at least one Jamaican who has completed his first tour of duty has pledged to return.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Edgar Abbott, who returned home on Friday, said he intends to return to Haiti in order to provide greater assistance to victims of the massive earthquake.

The doctor said that nothing in his 15 years of service could have prepared him for Haiti. He said that so grave was the situation that he found it hard to even take out his camera to take pictures of the devastation.

"When I get home I am going to be embarking on a fund-raising effort so that I may be able to return and help the people here," Abbott said.

Before leaving for Jamaica, Abbott asked The Sunday Gleaner to give his sleeping bag to someone in need. It was handed to an elderly woman in the outskirts of the capital who had followed the Jamaica Defence Force's hope train, which was distributing relief supplies.

  • Coming next Wednesday:

    Haiti - Because We Must

  • Jamaica has moved quickly to heal the hurt in our northern neighbour, Haiti, which was devastated by a seismic monster more than a week ago.

    Find out what else you can do to help the earthquake victims and read gripping stories about pain, misery, hope and recovery in The Gleaner's special multi-page feature on Haiti in next Wednesday's newspaper.

    Remember, get your copy of The Gleaner on Wednesday, January 27!