It has been 10 days since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti and killed tens of thousands of people. With the passing of time it becomes less likely that anyone will be found alive in the rubble and efforts in the nation now switch focus to recovery and rebuilding.
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At least 120 people have been pulled alive from what remains of buildings, homes, schools and hospitals in Haiti. To survive beyond this point however would require a miracle and Haitian authorities have said they expect to call off organized search and rescue operations today.
To date 72,000 have been confirmed dead according to Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive. An untold number still lie buried under the rubble. Some believe the total death toll will easily exceed 100,000.
Emergency supplies of food, water, and medicine from around the globe continue to stream into the nation as the bottlenecks of a damaged airport and pier begin to be fixed. Distributing the aid across the damaged nation continues to be a problem however with a destroyed infrastructure hampering efforts.
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Security also continues to be a concern following on widespread looting and violence earlier this week. The U.S. military and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) have been providing escorts for relief convoys.
The U.S. military continues to be the primary presence in conducting operations to help the earthquake stricken nation. U.S. Southern Command said they expected to have 20,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Haiti and on the seas surrounding the nation by Sunday. Units from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and 82nd Airborne Division will soon be joined by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit on the ground.
The massive hospital ship Comfort arrived yesterday and its 1,000 hospital beds are quickly filling up. Upon arrival additional medical personnel came on board and immediately went to work. “We had critical care nurses show up today, and after they signed in, they put their scrubs on and went to work,” said Command Master Chief Chip Collins. Nine surgeries were completed in the ships first day on station and many more are planned in the days ahead.
Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, said the United States has delivered 1.4 million bottles of water, 700,000 meals and 22,000 pounds of medical equipment. With the help of U.S. military helicopters, the U.N.’s World Food Program said that it had distributed 1.5 million rations to 250,000 people.
Another aftershock this morning of magnitude 4.4 struck the nation and served to rattle already frayed nerves. Wednesday a more powerful magnitude 5.9 quake further damaged already weakened buildings.
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Relocating the hundreds of thousands left homeless has become a priority for Haiti. Demolition of the extensively damaged areas will soon need to begin and workers will need free reign to complete their work. The Haiti government said it was establishing camps outside Port au Prince that could eventually house as many as 400,000 people.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Special Envoy and former U.S. President Bill Clinton met yesterday to discuss the steps needed to help Haiti begin rebuilding. A program to put Haitians to work helping rebuild has already been started and will soon be expanded.
“The cash-for-work program is the next step,” Clinton said. “It’s really important to give young people something positive to do and a lot of people there want to be a part of rebuilding their country.”
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