Saturday, January 23, 2010

‘Water is the Currency’ in Haiti, Not Money

People line up to to receive water from a firetruck in Port-au-Prince. —AFP

PORT-AU-PRINCE: Troops and planeloads of food and medicine trickled in to Haiti on Thursday to aid a traumatised nation still rattled by aftershocks from the earthquake that flattened homes and government buildings and buried countless people.

The Haitian Red Cross said it believed 45,000 to 50,000 people had died and three million more were hurt or left homeless by the major 7.0 magnitude quake that hit Haiti’s capital on Tuesday.

Heavy aircraft had begun to ferry in aid, but the influx had yet to reach shell-shocked Haitians who silently wandered the broken streets of Port-au-Prince, searching desperately for water, food and medical help.

“Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency,” one foreign aid worker said.

Looters swarmed a broken supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, peacefully carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker.

“All the policemen are busy rescuing and burying their own families,” said tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch. “They don’t have the time to patrol the streets.”

The US was sending 3,500 soldiers and 300 medical personnel to help with disaster relief and security in the devastated Caribbean capital.

Meanwhile, Haiti, warning that its airport was full, asked the United States and other countries not to authorise any more flights to Port-au-Prince for now, US aviation authorities said on Thursday.

“The Haitian government ... told us they are not currently accepting any flights in the Haitian air space because the ramp area at the Port-au-Prince airport is saturated,” said Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.—Agencies

Source: Dawn

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