Haiti suffered two new aftershocks yesterday. Haiti has felt close to 50 aftershocks since the devastating 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12. The US Geological Survey, which warned the Caribbean nation could be feeling aftershocks for the next 30 days, measured the second tremor at 4.4. Edison Constant voiced the fears of all Haitians when he said, “We just can’t get used to these quakes. Each aftershock is terrifying and everyone is afraid.” For the traumatized people left homeless, hungry and destitute each new quake is a fresh reminder of the terrifying minute two weeks ago when the earth shook, destroying their lives.
Haitian leaders say the earthquake killed 150,000 people and left a million homeless with hundreds of thousands now dependent on handouts from a massive aid relief operation and living in makeshift camps. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the US operation in Haiti from criticisms that it lacked leadership and had been too heavy-handed in the immediate chaotic aftermath of the quake.
“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,” Clinton said. Some 20,000 US troops have been sent to Haiti to help distribute food and water. They took over control of the damaged airport, but many have remained stationed on offshore ships, including a floating hospital which has been treating scores of injured.
Amid criticism from various countries, some of which feel the aid efforts amount to a takeover, a senior Italian official separately deplored a lack of a coordinated international aid effort in Haiti, saying the United States had “too many officers” there and could not find a capable leader. The international relief effort has indeed struggled to get aid into the capital Port-au-Prince and out towards flattened towns near the quake’s epicenter. Donor nations and aid organizations have warned rebuilding the impoverished country will take at least a decade.
Haitians, who lived with decades of political upheaval and bloodshed, remain fearful that the new-found international interest in their plight could soon fade. Haiti’s President René Préval urged the world to urgently airlift 200,000 more tents and 36 million ready-to-eat packs before the rainy season starts in May.
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