Countries and relief organisations around the world are sending aid to Haiti, which was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday, affecting up to three million people, most of them in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Relief efforts, however, have been hampered by damaged or destroyed infrastructure, lack of shelter, and communications difficulties.
As of today, at least 300,000 people were estimated to be homeless in the capital, according to the United Nations; the organisation reports that one in ten buildings completely collapsed due to the tremors and resulting aftershocks. The UN said it believes 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed by the quake, while Haitian President Rene Preval said that seven thousand bodies were buried in a mass grave.
Port-au-Prince’s main airport remained open as of today, and relief airplanes were arriving faster than they could be unloaded, prompting fears that planes could run out of fuel while waiting their turn to land. As a result, all non-military flights out of the airport were restricted. Air traffic controllers from the US were present to help handle the flow.
The main port, meanwhile, was severely damaged, and unable to handle any cargo.
“We need food. The people are suffering. My neighbors and friends are suffering,” said another resident, Sylvain Angerlotte, aged 22, as quoted by the Associated Press. “We don’t have money. We don’t have nothing to eat. We need pure water.”
Due to lack of buildings or shelter, many relief members were facing the same difficulties as were residents. “Even the aid workers themselves are sleeping in cars or in tents on the streets,” said Jamieson Davies, the international programmes director of the Caritas relief organisation, to Al Jazeera. She described the situation as being “extremely difficult”.