'We're proud to be part of aid effort'

MDA team leader writes letter home from Haiti; 6.1-magnitude quake hits country; 2 boys rescued.

January 20, 2010 15:03
3 minute read.
Daniel Kedar squeezes at the IDF hospital the hand

haiti idf hospital 311. (photo credit: E.B. Solomont)

"Even hours of training and drills do not prepare any person for the sheer scale of destruction we are witnessing and our helplessness when facing the local population's expectations," the head of Magen David Adom's team in earthquake-shattered Haiti wrote in a message back home on Wednesday, moments before another quake shook the country.

"This is the moment when you become proud in being a part, however small, of the help given to the people who need you so much," he said.

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A 6.1 magnitude quake struck Haiti on Wednesday 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 US Geological Survey said the quake hit at 6:03 a.m. (1103 GMT) about 56 kilometers northwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince. It struck at a depth of 22 kilometers but was located too far inland to generate any tidal waves in the Caribbean.

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

Earlier Wednesday, two brothers aged 10 and seven were rescued from the rubble in Port au-Prince and brought to the Israeli field hospital in the Haitian capital.

The boys were pulled out of the rubble by US forces a week after a devastating earthquake shook the area.

They were listed in good condition.

Meanwhile, a 69-year-old ardent Roman Catholic who said she prayed constantly during her week under the rubble was among the unlikely survivors of the epic earthquake.

One full week after the magnitude-7 quake killed an estimated 200,000, left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless, search-and-rescue teams were emerging from the ruins with improbable success stories. Experts have said that without water, buried quake victims were unlikely to survive beyond three days.

Elsewhere in the capital, two women were pulled from a destroyed university building. And near midnight Tuesday, a smiling and singing 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried to safety from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighborhood by the French aid group Rescuers Without Borders.

Crews at the cathedral compound site Tuesday managed to recover the body of the archbishop, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in the Jan. 12 quake.

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.

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. There have been anecdotal reports of starvation among the old and infirm, but apparently no widespread starvation yet.

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 US 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 UN 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. No details were provided on how the figure was determined.

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