ESTIMATES of the death toll in Haiti rose to more than 200,000 yesterday, with warnings of more people dying of hunger and disease following last Tuesday’s earthquake.
Images of hundreds of corpses lying on the streets outside the mortuary in Port-au-Prince shocked people across the world, with the full scale of the devastation beginning to emerge.
Transporter planes are taking off and landing at the airport, but survivors on the poverty-stricken Caribbean island said they still don’t have food and water, despite the promises of international aid.
Only a few miles from the airport – the hub of the relief operation – people are huddled in makeshift camps, in the intense heat.
The risk of disease is all around, with the lack of sanitation, clean water and the rotting corpses.
At the weekend, thousands were clambering on buses and fleeing the capital – where the price of available petrol and diesel has trebled – with what belongings they could carry.
But the situation in Leogane, 12 hours west from the capital Port-au-Prince, is even worse.
Almost every building has been destroyed.
Survivors fled to surrounding sugar cane fields and mangrove swamps after the earthquake – which measured 7.0 in magnitude – struck.
Tens of thousands of people were huddled in the open air in church compounds, school yards and market places.
There was a giant queue for the only working tap of water, with the stench of dead bodies filling the air.
‘There is no aid. We have nothing at all. No food, no water, no medicine, no doctors,’ said survivors.
More than a million people are homeless, according to the Haitian government.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon headed to Haiti yesterday morning to discuss how to support relief efforts.
The UN chief told reporters before his departure that the UN had three priorities: saving as many lives as possible, stepping up humanitarian assistance and ensuring the coordination of the aid coming into the country.
The UN had a force of several thousand troops in Haiti when the earthquake struck last week, but now 10,000 US marines and soldiers are arriving and are taking control of the island’s main port and the airport at Port-au-Prince.
‘We should not waste one dollar of aid,’ Ban Ki-moonsaid, telling reporters that the UN was feeding 40,000 people and that he expected that figure to rise to within two million within a month.
The UN launched an appeal for $562 million, which it says is intended to help three million people for six months.
Hungry Haitians broke into a United Nations warehouse in Cité Soleil, where 15,000 tonnes of food were stored.
David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the UN multinational force in Haiti, said aid was being delivered as quickly as possible.
But Haiti is just miles from the American military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Haiti on Saturday, saying that the United States would be ‘here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead’.
The USS Carl Vinson, an American aircraft carrier, has arrived in the harbour in Port-au-Prince, serving as a floating airport for helicopters, while the US Air Force has taken over air traffic control.
Diplomatic rows broke out on Saturday as France accused the United States of exerting too much control over which flights are allowed to land at the airport.