CLOSE

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Death was everywhere Wednesday in this devastated city of 2 million. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

Moreover, untold numbers were still trapped after a powerful earthquake Tuesday crushed thousands of structures — from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the local U.N. headquarters.

As nations around the world mobilized to send help, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told Reuters that he believed the casualties would be “in the range of thousands of dead.”

Soon after, however, Bellerive told CNN that “I believe we are well over 100,000” dead, while Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue said it could be 500,000. Both admit they have no way of knowing. Other officials said it was too early to give an accounting of the toll.

Aid workers reported widespread destruction and suffering.

“It’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen,” Bob Poff, a Salvation Army worker in Port-au-Prince, told MSNBC. “We have to get food and water” quickly, he said, in describing conditions that range from stifling heat to numerous aftershocks. “We’re trying to stay alive.”

‘Please take me out’

Sobbing and dazed people wandered the streets of Port-au-Prince, and voices cried out from the rubble.

“Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me,” a woman told a journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten.

The International Red Cross said some 3 million people may have been affected.

Haitian Red Cross spokesman Pericles Jean-Baptiste said his organization was overwhelmed. “There are too many people who need help … We lack equipment, we lack body bags,” he said Wednesday.

Doctors Without Borders said its three hospitals in Haiti were unusable and it was treating the injured at temporary shelters.

“The reality of what we are seeing is severe traumas, head wounds, crushed limbs, severe problems that cannot be dealt with the level of medical care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it,” said Paul McPhun, an operations manager for the charity.

France’s foreign minister said the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was apparently among the dead. Haiti’s Radio Metropole also quoted the minister, Bernard Kouchner, as saying hundreds of French nationals were missing.

The Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, was also killed.

According to the United Nations, the earthquake also collapsed the main prison in Haiti’s capital, with reports of escaped inmates.

Radio Metropole reported that U.N. forces scrambled to protect U.N. weapons from looters ransacking the capital.

Bodies on the streets

Aftershocks rattled the city as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares singing hymns.

People pulled bodies from collapsed homes, covering them with sheets by the side of the road. Passers-by lifted the sheets to see if a loved one was underneath. Outside a crumbled building the bodies of five children and three adults lay in a pile.

Article courtesy of: msnbc.com

Leave a Reply