Haiti earthquake death toll rises to 150,000 and could double to 300,000

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Jan 24, 2010, 4:01:41 PM1/24/10
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Perilous Times

Haiti earthquake death toll rises to 150,000 and could double to 300,000

Government minister says confirmed death toll has topped 150,000 in capital alone

    * Rory Carroll in Port-au-Prince
    * guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 January 2010 19.55 GMT

Haiti's government raised the confirmed earthquake death toll to 150,000 ­today, and said the figure could double as reports from outside the capital are collated.

Aid agencies said food, water and basic supplies were reaching more people but that clinics were also starting to see more infections and complications from amateur medical treatment. The confirmed death toll in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area alone had topped 150,000, said the communications minister, and more bodies remained uncounted.

"Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble – 200,000, 300,000?" Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue told AP. "Who knows the overall death toll?"

Corpses are still visible in the rubble in neighbourhoods such as Petionville, Gressier, Carrefour and downtown.

The government's figures were based on data from CNE, a state company which has collected and buried corpses in mass graves in Port-au-Prince and a semi-rural wasteland, Titanyen, outside the capital.

It was a sharp spike from Saturday when the UN said the government had confirmed 111,481 bodies. Before today's statement authorities had estimated a total of 200,000 from the 12 January 7.0-magnitudequake. Up to 3 million people are estimated to need aid.

The US military expanded its role when a convoy of army Humvees, accompanied by Brazilian UN troops, delivered food packs and water to Cité Soleil, the capital's most notorious slum. "The aid we have available is being pushed out," Lieutenant General Ken Keen, commander of US military operation in Haiti, told Reuters. But the need is tremendous "

With 13,000 personnel in Haiti and on ships offshore, the US military has overtaken the UN's peacekeeping mission's capacity. Last Friday it formally obtained broad authority to control air and sea ports and secure roads to support relief efforts.

Cuba's Fidel Castro joined a chorus of leftist Latin leaders who have accused the US of "occupying" the republic under an aid banner. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, speaking on his weekly TV show, said: "Obama, send vaccinations, kid, send vaccinations. Each soldier that you send there should carry a medical kit instead of hand grenades and machine guns."

Médecins Sans Frontières said it was shifting its focus from surgery to the "next level" of need. "In some parts of Port-au-Prince, the teams are starting to see more people coming to their hospitals who have infections or complications following basic or amateur attempts at treatment in the early days of the aftermath," it said.

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