Another Strong Earthquake Hits Haiti


haiti8A strong earthquake struck Haiti this morning, shaking buildings and sending screaming people running into the streets only eight days after the country’s capital was devastated by a previous¬†quake.The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.1 magnitude quake hit at 6:03 a.m. (1103 GMT) about 35 miles (56 kilometres) northwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince. It struck at a depth of 13.7 miles (22 kilometres) but was located too far inland to generate any tidal waves in the Caribbean.

Wails of terror rose today from frightened survivors of the quake that struck eight days ago as people as people poured out of unstable buildings.

It was not immediately possible to ascertain what additional damage the new quake may have caused.

Last week’s magnitude-7 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people in Haiti, left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless. A massive international aid effort has been launched, but is struggling with overwhelming logistical problems.

Still, search-and-rescue teams have emerged from the ruins with some improbable success stories – including the rescue of 69-year-old ardent Roman Catholic who said she prayed constantly during her week under the rubble.

Authorities said close to 100 people had been pulled from wrecked buildings by international search-and-rescue teams. Efforts continued, with dozens of teams sifting through Port-au-Prince’s crumbled homes and buildings for signs of life.

But the good news was overshadowed by the frustrating fact that the world still can’t get enough food and water to the hungry and thirsty.

“We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon,” said Sophia Eltime, a 29-year-old mother of two who has been living under a bedsheet with seven members of her extended family.

The World Food Program said more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations had been distributed in Haiti by Tuesday, reaching only a fraction of the 3 million people thought to be in desperate need.

The WFP said it needs to deliver 100 million ready-to-eat rations in the next 30 days. Based on pledges from the United States, Italy and Denmark, it has 16 million in the pipeline.

Even as U.S. troops landed in Seahawk helicopters Tuesday on the manicured lawn of the ruined National Palace, the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster and the limitations of the world’s governments. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.

So far, international relief efforts have been unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. Doctors Without Borders says a plane carrying urgently needed surgical equipment and drugs has been turned away five times, even though the agency received advance authorization to land.

A statement from Partners in Health, co-founded by the deputy U.N. envoy to Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, said the group’s medical director estimated 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery.


The reasons are varied:

– Both national and international authorities suffered great losses in the quake, taking out many of the leaders best suited to organize a response.

– Woefully inadequate infrastructure and a near-complete failure in telephone and Internet communications complicate efforts to reach millions of people forced from homes turned into piles of rubble.

– Fears of looting and violence keep aid groups and governments from moving as quickly as they’d like.

– Pre-existing poverty and malnutrition put some at risk even before the quake hit.

Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The nonfunctioning seaport and impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.

Aid is being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said it had raised the facility’s daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180 on Tuesday.

About 2,200 U.S. Marines established a beachhead west of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday to help speed aid delivery, in addition to 9,000 Army soldiers already on the ground. Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said helicopters were ferrying aid from the airport into Port-au-Prince and the nearby town of Jacmel as fast as they could.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that the military will send a port-clearing ship with cranes aboard to Port-au-Prince. It will be used to remove debris that is preventing many larger ships carrying relief supplies from docking.

The U.N. was sending in reinforcements as well: The Security Council voted Tuesday to add 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-strong international force.

“The floodgates for aid are starting to open,” Matthews said at the airport. “In the first few days, you’re limited by manpower, but we’re starting to bring people in.”

The WFP’s Alain Jaffre said the U.N. agency was starting to find its stride after distribution problems, and hoped to help 100,000 people by Wednesday.

Hanging over the entire effort was an overwhelming fear among relief officials that Haitians’ desperation would boil over into violence.

“We’ve very concerned about the level of security we need around our people when we’re doing distributions,” said Graham Tardif, who heads disaster-relief efforts for the charity World Vision. The U.N., the U.S. government and other organizations echoed such fears.

Occasionally, those fears have been borne out. Looters rampaged through part of downtown Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, just four blocks from where U.S. troops landed at the presidential palace.

Hundreds of looters fought over bolts of cloth and other goods with broken bottles and clubs.

{London Free Press/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Maybe it makes more sense to try to absorb the Haitians in the states, than to give so much money to rebuild what might collapse again soon anyway??