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With Haiti government crippled, bodies rot in streets

Emergency crews operating despite lack of functioning government.


In a children’s hospital, a group of some 15 men searched for the clinic director who was in his first floor office when five levels tumbled down. “We will get him out soon,” said Pierre Josef, resting after swinging a hammer through the crumbling concrete.

Thousands of others set up their own makeshift refugee camps in any spaces they could find, including soccer fields, sidewalks and the patios of offices and hotels.

Hauling up sheets on sticks and tires, families sat and shared what little food they had and tried to tend to their sick.

Miriam Le Blanc, a 23-year-old housewife, moved frantically to try and attend to her two children and her husband, whose jaw had been shattered when their home collapsed on Tuesday. He had been bandaged up and given drugs, but Le Blanc said he needed hospital treatment.

“He is in so much pain and he seems to be getting worse,” she said, as he lay under the sheet wincing.

Medical relief workers say the lack of hospital facilities is the central problem they face in trying to heal the injured here.

Several Haitian hospitals were destroyed in the quake and many doctors and were killed. Many of the injured are also scared to go into enclosed buildings, with more tremors being felt on Thursday and Friday morning.

As a result, most people with broken bones, fractured limbs and other injuries are being treated in the makeshift camps.

Liviu Verasco, who is coordinating the International Medical Corps mission to the disaster zone, says many of the suffering will need more serious surgery to save their lives.

“Many people have died of quite simple infections,” Verasco said. “Others need amputations to save them. And you can’t carry out an amputation in one of these camps.”

Verasco says they are coordinating with local directors to try and get some more hospitals up and running but are fighting an uphill battle.

“We are trying to figure out how to move people to where they can get treatment. There are very few ambulances here,” said Verasco, who has been working in relief efforts for 15 years.

“These disasters are always messy. We will probably never know how many people have died here.”