100,000 feared dead in Haiti quake (2)

09:16, January 14, 2010      

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Other nations -- from Iceland to Venezuela -- said they would start sending in aid workers and rescue teams. Cuba said its existing field hospitals in Haiti had already treated hundreds of victims. The United Nations said Port-au-Prince's main airport was "fully operational" and open to relief flights.

The US Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, is under way and expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti Thursday. Additional US Navy ships are under way to Haiti, a statement from the Southern Command said.

Aftershocks continued to rattle the capital of 2 million people as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares to sing hymns.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said it was possible that the death toll "will be in the thousands."

"Initial reports suggest a high number of casualties and, of course, widespread damage but I don't have any figure that I can give you with any reliability of what the number of casualties will be," Holmes said.

People pulled bodies from collapsed homes, covering them with sheets by the side of the road. Passers-by lifted the sheets to see if loved ones were underneath. Outside a crumbled building, the bodies of five children and three adults lay in a pile.

The prominent died along with the poor: the body of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found in the ruins of his office, said the Rev. Pierre Le Beller of the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France. He told The Associated Press by telephone that fellow missionaries in Haiti had told him they found Miot's body.

Preval told the Herald that Haiti's Senate president was among those trapped alive inside the Parliament building. Much of the National Palace pancaked on itself.

The international Red Cross and other aid groups announced plans for major relief operations in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.

Tens of thousands of people lost their homes as buildings that were flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions collapsed. Nobody offered an estimate of the dead, but the numbers were clearly enormous.

"The hospitals cannot handle all these victims," said Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles.

Medical experts say disasters such as an earthquake generally do not lead to new outbreaks of infectious diseases, but they do tend to worsen existing health problems.


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