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U.S., World Mount Response To Haiti 7.0 Earthquake

Rescue teams and aid groups headed to Haiti on Wednesday to offer help and “assess damage from a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake that crippled the island nation, severing communications with the outside world and crumbling countless buildings,” the Miami Herald reports (Charles et al., 1/13). Tuesday’s “earthquake was the worst in the region in more than 200 years and left the country in a shambles,” according to the New York Times (Romero/Lacy, 1/13).

Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “there is no way of estimating” casualties at this point. “I’m quite sure we’re going to face a disaster of major proportion,” he said, adding that “a hospital ship off the coast of Haiti is a must for us right now,” the Associated Press writes (1/13). 

After U.S. authorities were notified of the earthquake Tuesday, “President Barack Obama said the United States stood ‘ready to assist’ Haiti” and said the U.S. is “closely monitoring the situation …,” according to Agence France-Presse (1/12). “USAID announced that it was immediately dispatching a disaster assistance team, composed of up to 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines and up to 48 tons of rescue equipment,” Politico’s Laura Rozen writes on her blog. “‘This is is a tragic situation and we will work alongside the Haitian government to provide immediate assistance in the rescue effort,’ said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. ‘On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti who have been affected by this devastating earthquake’” (1/12).

According to the AP/MSNBC, USAID is also coordinating with the State Department and the U.S. Southern Command and has “activated its partners, the Fairfax County (Va.) Urban Search and Rescue Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team. USAID disaster experts also would assist.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said “the U.S. was gathering information about the quake and its impact, and that the U.S. was offering full assistance – civilian and military – to Haiti,” the news service writes (1/13).

Former President Bill Clinton, U.N. special envoy for Haiti, issued a statement that said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti. My U.N. office and the rest of the U.N. system are monitoring the situation, and we are committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts,” the Miami Herald reports (1/13).

In addition to the U.S., Canada, France and Latin American governments have offered assistance, the AFP reports in a second article (1/12). Also, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “said he is most concerned for the people of Haiti and the many U.N. staff who serve there.  Mr. Ban said he is receiving initial reports and following developments closely,” VOA News writes (1/13). A second VOA News article examines how natural disasters have affected the country over the years (1/13).  

CNN reports that Oxfam has dispatched rescue teams to Haiti in an effort to “provide clean water, sanitation, shelter and emergency supplies … a U.S. aviation source said the control tower at the Port-au-Prince international airport had collapsed, possibly hindering relief efforts.” In addition, Ian Rodgers, of Save the Children, said a lack of lighting and collapsed buildings have obstructed some travel routes and made roads unsafe.

In an e-mail, Louise Ivers, the clinical director of Partners In Health, wrote, “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS … Temporary field hospital … needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us” (1/13).

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies spokesperson, Jean-Luc Martinage, said, “Emergency stocks are prepositioned in Haiti and will allow us to bring aid to 3,000 families for three to four days.”  According to the organization, “the most urgent needs at this time are search and rescue, field hospitals, emergency health, water purification, emergency shelter, logistics and telecommunications,” SAPA-AP/Agence France-Presse/BusinessDay reports (1/13).