Haiti quake toll tops 200,000

PORT-AU-PRINCE: The death toll in the Haiti quake has swelled to 200,000, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said yesterday as angry protests over the slow arrival of aid flared on the rubble-strewn streets.

More than three weeks after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, Bellerive said his

tiny Caribbean nation had been ravaged by “a disaster on a planetary scale” and detailed the tragic toll suffered by his people.

“There are more than 200,000 people who have been clearly identified as people who are dead,” he said in an interview with AFP, adding that another 300,000 injured had been treated, 250,000 homes had been destroyed and 30,000 businesses lost.

At least 4,000 amputations have also been carried out due to horrific crush injuries — a shocking figure which

is likely to strain the impoverished nation’s already

meager resources for years to come.

Bellerive said he has proposed the formation of an “emergency government” in Haiti to focus on the crisis, but insisted that the authorities, devastated as their ranks have been by the disaster, remained “in control of the situation.” Despite a massive aid operation, a lack of coordination and the sheer extent of the damage have hampered the distribution of food and water leading to mounting tensions among a million people left homeless.

“The Haitian government has done nothing for us, it has not given us any work. It has not given us the food we need,” Sandrac Baptiste said bitterly as she left her makeshift tent to join angry demonstrations yesterday.

In separate protests after

a tense night when shots

were fired in the ruined

capital Port-au-Prince, some 300 people gathered outside the mayor’s office in the

once upscale Petionville neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, a group of US Christians were to learn today whether they would be charged with trying to illegally take children out of the quake-stricken nation, a judge told AFP.