Man buried for 12 days is pulled out alive

STUNNED rescuers wrenched a survivor from the rubble after 12 days entombed in Haiti’s quake-ravaged capital, where desperate crowds clamoured yesterday for more and quicker relief.

Dehydrated, covered in dust and with a broken leg, the 31-year-old emerged alive from the ruins of a road in Port-au-Prince called the Rue de Miracles.

He was not buried by the 7.0-magnitude quake that struck on January 12 but two days later, according to the US military who rescued him, probably by one of the huge aftershocks common after such a disaster.

He had survived on small amounts of water and was said to be amazingly well considering his ordeal — the longest of any Haiti quake survivor so far.

Two further tremors scared weary, destitute Haitians out of their makeshift camps, and the US Geological Survey warned of more to come for the next month.

“We just can’t get used to these quakes. Each aftershock is terrifying and everyone is afraid,” trader Edison Constant said.

The January 12 quake killed at least 150,000 people in the Caribbean nation — one of the world’s poorest even before disaster struck — and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

In the Cite Soleil slum, several thousand desperate people converged on a walled police compound for sacks of relief supplies, surging against the steel gates as officials struggled to let them in one by one.

Across the capital, ad hoc street committees have hung imploring banners in English and French — “SOS”, “We need help here” and “We need food and water” — in desperate attempts to attract the attention of aid agencies.

With its helicopters constantly rotating overhead and foot patrols in ever increasing evidence, the US military has assumed the dominant role in the aid operation, and has been largely welcomed by Haitians.

Still, a stung US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forced to defend the operation from criticism it had been badly coordinated with other states and aid agencies and too heavy-handed in the immediate aftermath.

“I deeply resent those who attack our country, the generosity of our people and the leadership of our president in trying to respond to historically disastrous conditions after the earthquake,” she retorted.

Some 20,000 US troops have been sent to Haiti to help distribute food and water, while Vice Admiral Alan Thompson, director of the US Defence Logistics Agency, said it had begun an operation to supply 14 million meals.

But the international relief effort has been dogged by traffic congestion and lingering security fears, and has yet to get enough aid into the capital and flattened towns near the epicentre.

Aid organisations fear disease could spread rapidly if thousands are still living in tent cities when the rains come in April or May.

Donor nations and aid organisations have warned that rebuilding the country will take at least a decade.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised developed nations for causing Haiti’s chronic poverty and misery, now compounded by the quake.

“The developed world is responsible for what happened in Haiti,” Lula, who authorised $205 million (€145m) of aid, told the World Social Forum meeting in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

“Perhaps now the earthquake will stir the shame of the human beings governing this planet, and we can now do what should have been done (for Haiti) 40 or 10 years ago.”

Brazil, which heads the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti, is doubling its blue-helmet force there to 2,600.

Meanwhile, NASA said it would conduct flights over tectonic faults in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to capture radar images that could be studied for warning signs of further quakes.

“Because of Hispaniola’s complex tectonic setting, there is an interest in determining if the earthquake in Haiti might trigger other earthquakes at some unknown point in the future,” said Paul Lundgren, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Meanwhile, Haiti’s Jacmel airfield has been cleared of debris by Canadian troops, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said yesterday.

“With the consent of the Haitian government the Jacmel airport has been put back in service by the Canadian Forces to allow for the delivery of relief supplies to the region and to reduce the amount of congestion currently being experienced at the Port-au-Prince airport,” MacKay told a briefing.

“Both planes and helicopters are now able to land at the Jacmel airport with a total of 64 aircraft movements yesterday alone,” MacKay told a briefing.

At least two Canadian military C-130 Hercules aircrafts are scheduled to land there daily. The United States, France and the United Nations have also been cleared to land planes at the airstrip, which has been cleared of trees.

Last week, MacKay said lighting and fuelling stations were to be added to the one-kilometre (3,300-foot) Jacmel airstrip in southern Haiti to make it operational 24 hours per day and accessible to larger transport planes.

The air field lacks radar equipment, so HMCS Halifax was anchored offshore to direct air traffic, he said.

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