Israeli delegation to Haiti rescues top local official
Ban Ki-moon confirms UN mission chief in Haiti died in the quake; Death toll could top 100,000.
The Israeli delegation in Haiti rescued on Saturday one of the country's top income tax officials from the government office building which collapsed in the Tuesday Earthquake.
The official, 52, who had been trapped underneath the rubble for four days, was found in moderate condition, and suffered from several bone fractures and dehydration. He is currently being treated at the Israeli field hospital which was opened on Saturday in the Caribbean nation.
Over 50 people have been treated so far by the Israeli medical team, Israel Radio reported, four of whom underwent operations.
Earlier on Saturday, the Israeli delegation opened a field hospital in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. Israel Defense Forces Brigadier-General Shalom Ben Aryeh told Israel Radio that the his delegation was one of the biggest and most skilled on the island.
The head of Israel's rescue and aid delegation to earthquake-stricken Haiti said earlier Saturday that there is still a chance of finding survivors beneath the rubble of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
Aryeh said that at dawn, the search and rescue would focus their efforts on several points in the capital city, including the rubble of the United Nations building, which collapsed in the 7.0 quake Tuesday.
The World Health Organization has said eight hospitals in Port-au-Prince were destroyed or damaged, severely curtailing treatment available for the injured.
With food, water and other aid flowing into Haiti in earnest, relief groups and officials are focused on moving the supplies out of the clogged airport and to hungry, haggard earthquake survivors in the capital.
The International Red Cross said a big medical convoy was heading into Haiti by road Saturday from the Dominican Republic because of the backups at the airport.
"It's not possible to fly anything into Port-au-Prince right now. The airport is completely congested," spokesman Paul Conneally told The Associated Press by phone from the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo.
Conneally said the convoy was carrying a 50-bed field hospital, surgical teams and an emergency telecommunications unit. In Geneva, Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said two larger field hospitals will arrive later.
Meanwhile, the UN mission chief in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, died in Tuesday's earthquake that devastated the country's capital, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Saturday.
Annabi, a Tunisian, was believed to be 65.
In a statement, Ban also confirmed the death of Annabi's deputy, Brazilian Luiz Carlos da Costa, and of the acting UN police commissioner in Haiti, Doug Coates of Canada.
Ban gave no details of how the bodies had been found, but the world body said earlier this week that Annabi and his aides were under the rubble of the Hotel Christopher, the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince, and could be alive or dead.
The effort to get aid to the victims has also been stymied by blocked roads, limited equipment and other obstacles. UN peacekeepers patrolling the capital said popular anger was rising and warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.
Officials said damage to the seaport also is a problem for bringing in aid. The arrival Friday of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson started helping immediately, taking pressure off the city's jammed airport. Within hours, an 82nd Airborne Division rapid response unit was handing out food, water and medical supplies from two cargo pallets outside the airport.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, to confer with Haitian President Rene Preval and U.S. and international civilian and military officials on how best to help the recovery effort and Haitian government. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to arrive "very soon."
Clinton on Friday cited a race against time before anxiety and anger create additional problems. Relief workers warned that unless supplies are quickly delivered, Port-au-Prince will degenerate into lawlessness.
The U.S. Southern Command said it now has 24 helicopters flying relief missions - many from warships off the coast - with 4,200 military personnel involved and 6,300 more due by Monday.
But there was still little sign of any aid in much of the city four days after the quake, and signs that the desperate - or the criminal - were taking things into their own hands.
A water delivery truck driver said he was attacked in one of the city's slums. There were reports of isolated looting as young men walked through downtown with machetes, and robbers reportedly shot one man whose body was left on the street.
"I don't know how much longer we can hold out," said Dee Leahy, a lay missionary from St. Louis, Missouri, who was working with nuns handing out provisions from their small stockpile. "We need food, we need medical supplies, we need medicine, we need vitamins and we need painkillers. And we need it urgently."
U.S. raises money for Haiti
U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, on Saturday said the two former presidents would lead a national drive to raise money for Haiti's earthquake survivors.
"By coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the world. In these difficult hours, America stands united. We stand united with the people of Haiti," Obama said.
Haitian authorities believe as many as 200,000 died in Tuesday's earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation, prompting a worldwide humanitarian response as rescuers race against time to save people still trapped in the rubble.
Obama, who has pledged an initial $100 million in quake relief, enlisted the help of Bill Clinton, a Democrat who is the United Nations' special envoy for Haiti, and former President George W. Bush, the Republican who proceeded him the White House, to spearhead private sector fund-raising efforts.
Obama said they had launched the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and directed Americans to visit the website at www.clintonbushhaitifund.org and give money, because Haiti faced a lengthy road back to recovery.
"We also know that our longer term effort will not be measured in days or weeks, it will be measured in months and even years. And that is why it is so important to enlist and sustain the support of the American people," he said.
Bush, who spoke next after Obama, said that both he and former first lady Laura Bush had been deeply saddened by the scenes of horror and death from Haiti.
"The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money ... I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water. Just send your cash," he said. "One of the things President Clinton and I will make sure is your money is spent wisely."
"Right now, all we need to do is get food and medicine and water and a secure place for them to be. But when we start the rebuilding effort ... we want to be a place where people can know their money will be well spent," Clinton said.
The website was already up and running, with a link for visitors to make donations from $25 upward. "What we do right now determines how many lives we can save. Together, we can help communities get back on their feet," the site said.
'Death toll may top 100,000'
As many as 100,000 people died in the earthquake and three-quarters of the capital, Port-au-Prince, will need to be rebuilt, authorities in the Caribbean country said Friday.
"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies. We anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number," Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told Reuters.
Some 40,000 bodies had been buried in mass graves, Secretary of State for Public Safety Aramick Louis said. But while workers are burying some in mass graves, countless bodies remain unclaimed in the streets and the limbs of the dead protrude from crushed schools and homes.
Other bodies were thrown into trucks and driven to the outskirts of town to be burned Friday. Residents paint toothpaste around their nostrils and beg passers-by for surgical masks to cut the smell.
"If the government still exists and the United Nations is around, I hope they can help us get the bodies out," said Sherine Pierre, a 21-year-old communications student whose sister died when her house collapsed.
Louis said Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive are living in and coordinating the government response from the judicial police headquarters near the airport, and their main concern was that desperation was turning to violence.
A third of Haiti's 9 million people may be in need of aid. Ban said the World Food Program was providing high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals to around 8,000 people several times a day.
"Obviously, that is only a drop in the bucket in the face of the massive need, but the agency will be scaling up to feed approximately 1 million people within 15 days and 2 million people within a month," he said.
Others are trying to help in smaller ways. Milero Cedamou, the 33-year-old owner of a small water delivery company, twice drove his small tanker truck to a tent camp where thousands of homeless people are living. Hundreds clustered around to fill their plastic buckets.
"This is a crisis of unspeakable magnitude, it's normal for every Haitian to help," Cedamou said. "This is not charity."
Medical teams from other nations set up makeshift hospitals to tend to the critically injured. Time, however, was running short for the rescue of people who still might be alive under the rubble.
"Beyond three or four days without water, they'll be pretty ill," said Dr. Michael VanRooyen of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston. "Around three days would be where you would see people start to succumb."
Still, there were improbable triumphs.
"It's a miracle," said Anne-Marie Morel, raising her arms to the sky after a neighbor was found alive in the rubble of a home. If one person could be resuscitated from the utter destruction of this street, there remained hope that many other could still be found alive, she said.
"Nonsense, there is no God and no miracle," shouted back Remi Polevard, another neighbor, who said his five children were somewhere under the nearby debris.
"How could he do this to us?" Polevard yelled.
The Israeli mission landed in Port-au-Prince on Friday with equipment for setting up an emergency field hospital. Around 220 soldiers and officers make up the delegation, including 120 medical staff who will operate the hospital in the Haitian capital.
The original plan was for the IDF to first send a Home Front Command rescue team, followed by medical teams.
But after contact was made with Haitian authorities, the army and Foreign Ministry decided that the Caribbean country's most pressing need was extra medical staff. Nearly every hospital in Haiti was destroyed in Tuesday's earthquake.
The mission includes 40 doctors, 20 paramedics and 24 nurses, as well as medics and medical technicians. Around a third of the delegation is made up of reservists who were called up specially for the mission.
The IDF's chief medical officer, Brigadier-General Nachman Esh, said that while the field hospital will largely treat trauma patients, similar to those encountered in a war, specialists in various other fields have also been sent.
"We expect to have to deal mainly with trauma cases, but when we arrive there, we also expect to encounter the secondary wave of infections and diseases, as well as the routine cases that the local hospitals would usually deal with," Esh told Haaretz.
The situation at a temporary hospital set up close to the Haiti-Dominican border remains grim. Injured Haitians fill the space, but there is almost no medical equipment or even food to offer them.
The lucky few among the injured spent the night sleeping on cardboard boxes. The rest, including those whose legs have been badly damaged and children covered in bandages, slept on the floor.
Despite the dreadful conditions, several of the injured tell Haaretz their situation at the hospital is better compared to the situation in the capital city.
One of the survivors said of the hospital, "At least you aren't sleeping on the street next to a dead body."
Abie Nathan's daughter makes contact
Sharona Elsaieh, the daughter of late peace activist Abie Nathan, is alive and well in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Nathan's daughter Sharona lives in the Haitian capital with her husband Mano Al-Seya. It is not known whether their home is still standing.
Seven other Israelis thought missing in Haiti were located late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Sharona, 58, moved to Port-au-Prince about two years ago, from Florida, where she lived for more than 20 years. Her second husband's father left them a plant in Haiti and ordered his son, of Haitian origin, to run the business.