Sun, January 24, 2010
World > Americas > Strong quake rocks Haiti

Haiti recovers slowly from deadly quake

2010-01-24 08:11:45 GMT2010-01-24 16:11:45 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

People crowd a market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Ubaldo Gonzalez)

An injured Haitian child receiving treatment lies in a temporary hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Ubaldo Gonzalez)

People scavenge in the ruins of a building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Ubaldo Gonzalez)

by Alexander Manda

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Eleven days after a 7.3-magnitude quake hit Haiti's capital city Port-au-Prince, things are now beginning to return to normal, though very slowly.

The much-reported violences, robberies and the like that occurred after the quake are now much less thanks to a joint patrol by U.S. military, UN peacekeeping staff and local police, which has gradually restored social stability in the city, although foreigners are still at risk of getting mobbed by desperate people at the airport.

The logistics problem that grabbed media's headlines last week during which only around 10 percent of homeless people could receive food, are fading away from people's memory with supermarkets finally reopening last Saturday, although the reopening caused a rush of purchases by local people who have been starved for more than 10 days.

Search and rescue teams from the United Nations, different countries as well as aid organizations and international bodies are now still working hard to clear bodies and rubble and offering consultancy service to the survivors.

People who lost their homes are now being settled down in tents outside the city center.

The survivors have different stories to tell.

Johnson, a university student from Wamba, a village on the outskirts of Port au Prince, was lucky enough to escape the quake as he did not take the final exam at the Episcopal University on Jan. 12 because he had to meet his best friend Pascal from afar. The quake destroyed the university and 27 of Johnson's 30 classmates who took the exam were killed by the quake.

Despite official warnings that people were extremely unlikely to have survived until last Saturday, rescuers continued work and pulled survivors out from the rubble.

An 84-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man were rescued miraculously on Friday, 10 days after the quake hit Haiti.

The aged woman named Marie Carida Roman was dug out from rubble of her home by her son and neighbors with bare hands.

Carida Roman was struggling in hospital as her body was in bad shape.

The 22-year-old man was rescued by the Israeli rescue team on Friday.

Unlike the old woman, the young man was found in stable condition at an Israeli field hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Some other survivors pulled out from collapsed buildings described how they survived by drinking their own urine during this ordeal.

The United Nations on Friday announced a new estimate of 75,000 deaths in the quake, much less than the earlier estimate of 200,000 by some other sources.

According to the UN estimate, the people who lost their homes number about 1 million, not as many as the earlier estimate of 3 million.

However, there are lots of work to do as most of the buildings in the capital city are distorted and dangerous. More than 40 percent of the buildings in the city were collapsed during the quake which required a lot of work to clear them.

The U.S. army, which controls the capital city's only airport, is busy with directing the landing and taking off of airplanes. But there are still complains from organizations like Doctors without Borders whose aircraft loaded with badly needed medicines and medical treatment equipment cannot land on the airport immediately after arriving.

All eyes are now on the next step to be taken in Haiti: what kind of rebound the city can expect, what kind of rebuilding will take place, if the city will escape the contagion that may follow the collapse of sanitation infrastructure and the fate of the city's many orphans.

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