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  • » 01/13/2010, 00.00


    Earthquake in Haiti: Hundreds, perhaps thousands of dead. Taiwan ready with aid

    "Total chaos" in the capital Port-au-Prince. Thousands of survivors roam the city in search of help. Haiti is the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. 78% live on less than $ 2 per day. In Taipei a team of 140 firefighters and 8 dogs, specializing in emergencies is ready.

    Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A magnitude 7 earthquake struck the island of Haiti overnight, the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere, destroying entire buildings and leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands dead. Haiti is one of the countries of Central America that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Foreign Office in Taipei has already expressed willingness to send teams specialized in emergency aid and earthquakes.  

    In Haiti all communication is down and the only news so far is via satellite. According to eye witness accounts from workers on the ground in a Catholic NGO, Port-au-Prince, the capital is "total chaos" smoke and dust rising from the ruins, survivors and injured people who go around seeking help, people who are still under the rubble. Thousands of people wander the streets crying, which shows, each step revealing new destruction.  

    The UN, which has 7 thousand peacekeeping soldiers and 2 thousand policemen on the island, said that a building of its headquarters was damaged, and "a large number of its staff scattered”. The UN has been present on the island since 2004, when the then President of Haiti, Bertrand Aristide went into exile.

    Haiti, with a population of approximately 9.6 million inhabitants, was recovering from various natural disasters - 4 tropical storms or hurricanes - which killed 800 people in 2008.  

    The poverty of the country is abysmal. The World Bank estimates, the average income per person is 560 U.S. dollars, 54% of Haitians live on less than $ 1 a day and 78% with less than $ 2 per day.    

    In Taipei, Foreign Ministry spokesman Henry Chen said that his ministry is collecting information on the disaster to see how and when to intervene. Specialized teams of firefighters are ready to depart. Among them there are 140 people specializing in emergency and 8 dogs trained for rescue. The group was launched in 2000 after an earthquake that struck Taiwan in September 1999, and caused thousands of deaths.

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    See also

    15/01/2010 ITALY - HAITI
    Italian bishops, extraordinary collection for victims of Haiti
    The donations collected in churches this Sunday, January 24th will be devoted to earthquake relief. The distribution will be made through the Italian Caritas. Solidarity and aid from the Korean Bishops Conference. International Red Cross estimates 50 thousand victims. Fears of epidemics and social unrest.

    04/03/2010 TAIWAN
    6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes southern Taiwan
    The quake was felt in Taipei, hundreds of kilometres away. A few minor injuries and damage to buildings, so far no victims. But the president is closely following relief efforts. Today’s earthquake follows the devastating earthquakes that hit Chile and Haiti in January.

    14/01/2010 HAITI
    Haiti, more than 100 thousand victims a tragedy worse than the tsunami
    The Red Cross counts 3 million people among the dead, injured and homeless. The survivors dig with bare hands through the rubble in search of relatives and friends. Lacking doctors and medicine, they chant traditional songs and prayers. AsiaNews sources: situation dramatic, impossible to know the number of victims.

    21/10/2005 PAKISTAN
    Only Caritas is operating at full speed in quake zone
    Mgr Coutts, Bishop of Faisalabad and chairman of Caritas Pakistan, speaks about the early relief operations and the situation two weeks after the quake. United Nations warns the situation is worse than after last year's tsunami.

    30/05/2008 CHINA
    Sichuan: corruption alleged in collapse of school on 9,000 students
    For the first time, official sources admit that buildings were built poorly. Meanwhile, work continues around the clock to dig a drainage channel for the waters of the lake threatening 1.3 million people. Beijing thanks Taiwan for aid, and arrests those who criticise the government over the earthquake.

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