Less than 48 hours after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, shell-shocked residents are wandering the streets, piling up the dead, and undertaking another excruciating effort: waiting for help.
Aid workers began arriving Wednesday night, but even organizations well-prepared to handle most disasters said the massive infrastructure damage could dramatically slow relief efforts.
Workers at Port-au-Prince’s airport spent six hours unloading supplies from a Chinese plane late Wednesday afternoon, saying the airport lacked the needed equipment to unload and transport critical items quickly. Relief workers worried that the incident could be an ominous sign for reaching those in need.
The needy are everywhere: Residents are using pick-up trucks as ambulances to transport the wounded and dying, but medical help is difficult to find. Others carry the dead to nearby hills for shallow burials that health workers fear could add a new health crisis to an already-horrendous situation.
Orthodox Presbyterian missionary Ben Hopp spent most of yesterday helping residents dig people out of a collapsed school in the capital, and recorded the account in an email from his nearby home last night. “God was very gracious and with a generator and power tools we were able to free 10 young girls from the rubble,” he wrote. “They all had non-life threatening injuries and were taken to a local hospital.”
But the rescue effort included grim recovery work as well. “Sadly we did also remove about 12-14 bodies from the wrecked school,” wrote Hopp. “It seems there is always joy alongside weeping here in Haiti.”
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