Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Man rescued from rubble 14 days after Haiti earthquake

US troops pulled a man alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in Haiti's destroyed capital on Tuesday, two weeks after a massive earthquake rattled the country.

The 35-year-old man, covered in dust and dressed only in underpants, was carried out from the ruins of a building in downtown Port-au-Prince and was driven off for medical treatment. He did not appear to have any serious injuries.

The rescue, exactly 14 days after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake killed as many as 200,000 people, came as the US-led relief effort was focused on getting help to hundreds of thousands of survivors left homeless, hungry and injured.

Brazilian UN peacekeeping troops fired tear gas at a frenzied crowd of thousands of Haitians crowding a food handout outside the wrecked presidential palace as delays in getting help to earthquake survivors persist.

"They're not violent, just desperate. They just want to eat," Brazilian Army Colonel Fernando Soares said. "The problem is, there is not enough food for everyone."

Facing persistent complaints by survivors that the huge amounts of aid flown in to Haiti is not reaching them on the ground, US and UN troops and aid workers have widened and intensified the distribution of food and water.

Some of the food handouts in the capital have turned unruly, although the United Nations said the overall security situation in the city remained stable.

It said about 60 percent to 70 percent of Haiti's police force has returned to work.

At the presidential palace on Tuesday, UN troops with shotguns handed out sacks of rice with American flags on them. Armored trucks formed a cordon to control the crowd and people were searched as they entered the checkpoint.

"Yesterday they gave us rice, but there was not enough. There were too many people," said Wola Levolise, 47, who is living in the camp with her nine children.

The World Food Program said it handed out 60 tons of food at the camp but ended the distribution early when the crowd got out of control.

"The vast majority of distributions in Haiti are being carried out in an orderly manner. There are isolated, regrettable incidents but these are the exceptions and not the rule," a WFP spokesman said.

The UN agency said it has delivered nearly 10 million meals to almost 450,000 people since the quake.

Unsanitary living conditions in Port-au-Prince have raised fears of an outbreak of disease.

So far, doctors on the US Navy hospital ship Comfort anchored offshore said they had seen only one case each of typhoid and dysentery, and several of tetanus and malaria.


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