Rescue continues as international community mobilized to help quake-hit Haiti

12:48, January 17, 2010      

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Rescue efforts continued in Haiti on Saturday as the international community has been mobilized to provide the devastated island nation's earthquake survivors with medical assistance and other humanitarian aid.

In the first three days after the magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck on Tuesday, aid workers spared no efforts to find any signs of life. A number of people have been saved from the rubble of Haiti's capital city but in most cases, more bodies were pulled out of the rubbles.

A volunteer treats an injured at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, on Jan. 16, 2010. The hospital is full of the earthquake patients with insufficient medical care. (Xinhua/Yuan Man)

As of early Friday, the Chilean search and rescue team rescued 23 people from the Montana Hotel.

Juan Gabriel Valdes, chief of the Chilean aid commission, said that rescue efforts would continue as long as there was hope of finding more people alive.

Meanwhile, the body of a Chinese peacekeeping police officer was found among the ruins of the collapsed building of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Chinese search and rescue team leader Huang Jianfa said here early Saturday.

The rescue team was doing everything possible to speed up the search for seven other Chinese officers who remained missing.

There were 142 Chinese peace-keeping police officers in Haiti. The others have been accounted for.

The Haitian civil protection ministry said that more than 50,000 people have been estimated to have died in the quake, with the number possibly closer to 100,000.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that it would take days to get the death toll, but the figure could be "very high."

The quake not only toppled government buildings in the capital city, but also shattered the Caribbean nation's fragile public service system, with many officials injured and more missing.

Rescue workers and humanitarian aid continued to arrive in Haiti but many of the capital's 3 million people remained without access to food, water, shelter and electricity.

Ban said in a telephone conversation with Haitian President Rene Preval on Friday that all relevant U.N. agencies had moved to deploy rescue work and the World Food Program has been distributing food to quake victims.

Ban said the U.N. had launched an urgent appeal for 550 million U.S. dollars.

Ban will travel on Sunday to Haiti, spokesman Martin Nesirky told Xinhua on Friday.

A volunteer treats an injured at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, on Jan. 16, 2010. The hospital is full of the earthquake patients with insufficient medical care. (Xinhua/Yuan Man)

"He would visit Haiti on Sunday to show his solidarity with the people of Haiti and U.N. staff, and to assess the humanitarian assistance effort and the scale of the disaster for himself," the spokesman said.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that among 40 rescue teams registered at the On-Site Operations Coordination Center, 17 have started their missions while six more were due to arrive soon.

She added her office had opened a special aerial route between the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince to speed the delivery of aid.

The German Red Cross (DRK) said Saturday that a German mobile hospital was on its way to Haiti.

The mobile hospital, with 200 crates of medical supplies and three all-wheel-drive vehicles, can treat up to 250 people a day.

DRK spokesman Svenja Koch said that the mobile hospital could be put into operation within a day if a suitable location was found.

Also on Saturday, a Boeing-747 jumbo jet carrying 90 tons of emergency humanitarian relief material donated by the Chinese government took off from Beijing for Haiti.

The 13 million yuan (1.9 million U.S. dollars) quake-relief donation, including tents, stretchers, food, medicines, clothing and water purification equipment, was China's first batch of relief aid for the stricken country.

The aid is part of an relief package worth 30 million yuan (4.41 million U.S. dollars) announced by the Chinese government Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would go to Haiti on Saturday with Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to meet Preval and inspect U.S. rescue efforts on the island.

Meanwhile, a "Hope for Haiti" telethon originating from Los Angeles, New York and Haiti was to be broadcast on all major networks next week to raise funds for the earthquake victims, organizers announced Friday.

An injured woman is carried out of a hospital in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, on Jan. 16, 2010. The hospital is full of the earthquake patients with insufficient medical care. (Xinhua/Yuan Man)

The two-hour telethon was to be broadcast from the three cities, with actor George Clooney hosting in Los Angeles, musician Wyclef Jean hosting in New York and CNN's Anderson Cooper broadcasting from Haiti.

The Jan. 22 telethon will be broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT. The telecast will also be made available to MTV Networks International, CNN International and National Geographic channels worldwide.

Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said in Brasilia after returning from a trip to Haiti early Friday that the Brazilian air force had built a field hospital in Port-au-Prince and the navy was considering transporting a medical center to Haiti.

Other countries including Cuba, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Finland, Lebanon and Poland have also offered relief funds, goods and materials or sent rescue teams.

Source: Xinhua
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