By ROBERT MACKEY
January 12, 2010, 9:29 pm
<!– — Updated: 10:57 am
–>Gleaning Information From Haiti Online
Some Haitians have turned to the Web to share information about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck about 10 miles southwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday evening. Any readers who are in Haiti or in touch with people there are encouraged to use the comment thread below to share first-hand accounts with us, or to point to them on other Web sites.
Update | 10:39 a.m. Here is a transcript of remarks by the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, earlier on Wednesday:
First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victims of yesterday’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. Je suis vraiment désolé par le désastre qui vient de toucher Haïti. C’est une tragédie pour Haïti, pour le peuple Haïtien, et pour [L’Organisation des] Nations Unies.
Information on the full extent of the damage is still scanty. Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken. It is now clear that the earthquake has had a devastating impact on the capital, Port-au-Prince. The remaining areas of Haiti appear to be largely unaffected.
As you are aware, buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely.
We are yet to establish the number of dead or injured, which we fear may well be in the hundreds. Medical facilities have been inundated with injured.
There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required.
I am grateful to those countries that are sending emergency relief. I urge all members of the international community to come to Haiti’s aid in this hour of need.
Many of our UN colleagues on the ground, including my Special Representative in Haiti, Mr. [Hédi] Annabi, and his deputy, Mr. [Luiz Carlos] da Costa, are as yet unaccounted for.
The UN Headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake. Many people are still trapped inside.
MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] troops have been working through the night to reach those trapped under the rubble. So far, several badly injured casualties have been retrieved and transported to the MINUSTAH logistics base, which thankfully remains intact. No names are available yet.
MINUSTAH has around 3,000 troops and police in and around Port-au-Prince to help maintain order and assist in relief efforts. MINUSTAH engineers have also begun clearing some of the main roads in Port-Au-Prince which will allow assistance and rescuers to reach those in need. I will dispatch Assistant Secretary-General and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet, to Haiti as soon as possible.
The UN is also mobilizing an emergency response team to help coordinate humanitarian relief efforts, which will be on the ground shortly. We will immediately release $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In this regard, I am encouraged and appreciative of the willingness of the international community to extend immediate assistance and rescue missions. I am close consultation with the US Government and Haitian Government, as well as many others of the international community’s major countries. In these times of difficulties, I would appeal again to the international community for urgent further assistance and urgent further help for them. Thank you very much.
Update | 10:23 a.m. In President Obama’s short statement on the crisis he said that Americans wishing to donate money to help the victims in Haiti, despite what he called tough times at home, can go to the White House Web site for information. A post on the White House blog says:
You can also help immediately by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online [to the American Red Cross], or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting “HAITI” to “90999.”
Families of Americans living in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.
Update | 10:22 a.m. The White House Web site is streaming remarks by President Barack Obama on the crisis in Haiti live in this player:
Update | 10:15 a.m. CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports that a helicopter he was flying in above Haiti’s capital on Wednesday morning just dodged a small airplane near the country’s presidential palace. Air traffic control, he says, has been badly hampered by the damage to the country’s infrastructure.
Update | 10:02 a.m. Britain’s ITN has this video report on some of the international plans to aid the search and rescue effort in Haiti:
Update | 9:57 a.m. The Salvation Army has passed on this note from its disaster coordinator in Haiti, Bob Poff, recounting his experiences immediately following the earthquake:
Words cannot begin to describe the devastation that has taken place in Port au Prince, Haiti.
I am the Director of Disaster Services for The Salvation Army in Haiti, and I am from the United States. My wife and I have been in [Port-au-Prnce] since April, and have fallen deeply in love with the country and it’s people.
When the earthquake struck, I was driving down the mountain from Petionville. Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings “pancaking” down, like I have never witnessed before. Traffic, of course, came to a stand-still, while thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them. We piled as many bodies into the back of our truck, and took them down the hill with us, hoping to find medical attention. All of them were older, scared, bleeding, and terrified. It took about 2 hours to go less than 1 mile. Traffic was horrible, devastation was everywhere, and suffering humanity was front and center.
When we could drive no further, we left the truck parked on the side of the street, and walked the remaining 2 miles to get back to the Army compound. What I found was very sad! All of the security walls were down. The Children’s Home itself seems pretty intact, but our quarters, which is attached, are destroyed. Unliveable. The walls and ceiling are still standing – but so badly compromised that I wouldn’t even think of trying to stay there. All of the children, and hundreds of neighbors, are sleeping in our playground area tonight. Occasionally, there is another tremor – another reminder that we are not yet finished with this calamity. And when it comes, all of the people cry out and the children are terrified.
As I am sitting outside now, with most people trying to get a little sleep, I can hear the moans and crys of the neighbors. One of our staff went to a home in the neighborhood, to try to be of assistance to the woman who lived there. But she was too late.
The scene will be repeated over and over again. Tomorrow, we will begin the process of assessing damage, learning about casualties, and preparing for the future.
God bless Haiti.
Update | 9:54 a.m. This video report from Britain’s Channel 4 News includes some of the only video from Haiti to emerge in the aftermath of the earthquake — which was shot on Tuesday evening and obtained by Reuters:
Update | 9:43 a.m. Frenchspeaking readers can consult the newspaper Le Monde, which is providing a stream of updates on the disaster on its Web site, although very little first-hand information is available at this hour in any language. Le Monde points to a Skye interview, in French, on the Web site of France 24 with a Haitian radio DJ, Carel Pedre, whose English-language account we posted in our 8:05 a.m. update.
The BBC reported that Mr. Pedre said last night:
I saw a lot of people crying for help, a lot of buildings collapsed, a lot of car damage, a lot of people without help, people bleeding. I saw a movie theater, a supermarket, a cybercafe, an apartment building which collapsed.
Now it’s dark outside, there is no electricity, all the phone networks are down, so there’s no way that people can get in touch with their family and friends.
There are aftershocks every 15 to 20 minutes. They last from three to five seconds. The first shock was really strong, people were falling in the streets and buildings collapsed.
I didn’t see any emergency services, the people at the neighbourhood were trying to help each other. The streets are narrow and there is lot of traffic and everyone is trying to reach family and friends. Traffic now is really difficult. People don’t know where to go or where to start.
Update | 9:39 a.m. Here is video from The Associated Press of some of the remarks made earlier on Wednesday by Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general:
Update | 9:21 a.m. On his blog about Haiti, “Dispatches from a fragile island,” Mark Turner, a former Financial Times journalist whose wife works with the U.N. mission in Haiti, writes that his family is safe (they happened to be on vacation in Miami on Tuesday) but deeply worried about the fate of people who may have been wounded or killed by the earthquake. Mr. Turner posted a rough transcript of a briefing held last in New York by U.N. officials.
During the briefing Alain Le Roy, a U.N. official explained the size of the mission in Haiti:
All together, we are more than 9,000 uniformed personnel, 490 international civilian personnel, and 1,200 local civilian staff, and 200 United Nations Volunteers. And I didn’t mention, among the troops are 7,000 troops and 2,000 policemen.
He added, “As far as we know, the main building that was the headquarters building called the Hotel Christopher has collapsed.”
The great delay in getting video or photographs from Haiti on Wednesday is clearly a sign of just how impoverished and isolated the country is at the best of times. The presence of the U.N. mission has focused more international attention on the disaster than might otherwise be the case, but according to Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, the damage in Port-au-Prince is so bad to basic services including water and communications infrastructure, that he remained unsure just an hour ago if his own special representative to the country was killed or not.
Update | 9:15 a.m. The Web site of ABS-CBN News in the Philippines reports:
In a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, Lt. Col. Limar Galicia, deputy commander of the peacekeeping operations center in Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, said he was informed by the New York Permanent Mission via email that at least 23 Filipino peacekeepers were trapped inside the headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Galicia said that these Filipinos are mostly doing clerical work and are usually the last to leave the office, which explained why they were still inside the building when the quake struck Tuesday afternoon local time in Haiti.
Update | 9:09 a.m. A report from the French news agency AFP on the Web site of Canada’s National Post newspaper says that U.N. peacekeepers are thought to be among the dead:
Brazil said four of its members of the U.N. force were killed and that five Brazilians were wounded and an undetermined number missing in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 7.0 quake. A Filipino diplomat told a television station in his home country that rescuers had retrieved several bodies as well as injured survivors from the rubble of the U.N. headquarters.
Update | 9:01 a.m. In an interview published on the Web site of the French radio station RTL, Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign minister said: “Unfortunately, the U.N. building collapsed and it would appear that all those who were in the building, including my friend Hedi Annabi, the special representative of the secretary general, and all those who were with him and around him, are dead.”
Update | 8:56 a.m. A reader points to another source of information n the Web:
The website www.haiti.ushahidi.com is collecting and mapping crisis information in Haiti. Reports by eyewitnesses can be sent to email@example.com, by sending a tweet with the hashtags #haiti or #haitiquake, or through a form on their website.
The site was set up overnight and is a joint effort between Ushahidi, UN OCHA/Colombia and the International Network of Crisis Mappers (CM*Net).
Update | 8:46 a.m. Early on Wednesday, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders reported on its Web site:
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams on the ground have witnessed significant damage to its medical facilities, injuries to patients and staff, and an influx of wounded towards these hospitals in the capital.
MSF’s Trinite trauma center hospital, a 60-bed structure and one of the only free-of-charge surgical facilities in Port-au-Prince, was seriously damaged by the quake. Although difficult to confirm, hundreds are reported to be wounded while the Haitian capital is massively damaged.
At the moment, MSF teams are trying to ensure the safety and continued care of patients admitted to Trinite hospital and to establish a capacity to respond to new patients. At its Maternité Solidarité hospital, a 75-bed emergency obstetrics facility also in the capital, pregnant women, new mothers, and newborn children have been evacuated from the facility due to structural damage and as a precautionary measure. MSF also operates Martissant 25, a health center in the Martissant slum and its immediate surroundings.
Communication systems such as mobile phone networks are not working and road access is severely hampered.
MSF is deeply concerned for the safety of our patients and staff. Additional staff will be deployed to reinforce the existing MSF staff on the ground and to assess the emerging needs from the earthquake in the coming days.
According to a news release from the Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army is mobilizing resources and personnel to assist with the international relief effort in Haiti following a severe earthquake Tuesday that damaged much of the country’s infrastructure, housing and commercial buildings.
The Salvation Army has had a presence in Haiti since 1950 and currently operates schools, clinics, a hospital, feeding programs, children’s homes and church-related activities spread across two major facilities in Port au Prince, close to the epicenter of the earthquake and at other locations in the country.
One of the facilities, or compounds as it is referred to, includes a home for more than 50 children; a school with a daily attendance of 1,500 children; a medical clinic caring for 150-200 people daily; and a church that on any typical Sunday welcomes nearly 1,000 people. The facility is less than 10 minutes from the National Palace and is in an area known as St. Martin that’s home to predominantly poor living in the nation’s capital.
According to reports from Salvation Army staff in Port au Prince, no one in the compound was injured during the earthquake, but the children’s home, the clinic and church suffered major damage. Several smaller buildings, including residences, have collapsed completely. People were sleeping in the parking lot overnight, while severe aftershocks continued to affect the country.
Update | 8:31 a.m. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is speaking about the relief effort now — and the U.N. Web site is carrying a live video stream of his remarks and replies to questions from reporters. The U.N. has about 3,000 peacekeepers in the area of the earthquake and the secretary general said that he has asked the U.S. government to supply logistical support for the relief effort. He also said that he has spoken with former President Bill Clinton, who has been an envoy to the country, about the effort.
The U.N. headquarters in the Haitian capital was damaged in the quake and, to give a sense of how badly communications have been affected, the secretary general said that he is not yet sure as to whether or not his special representative in the country, a Tunisian diplomat named Hédi Annabi, has survived the catastrophe.
Update | Wednesday | 8:08 a.m. According to this list from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site, in the 10 hours after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the Haiti at 4:53 p.m. local time on Tuesday, there were 32 aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.5 to 5.9 — and noticeable seismic activity continued on Wednesday morning. The most recent tremor recorded by the U.S.G.S. hit within the past hour, at 7:28 a.m.
Update | Wednesday | 8:05 a.m. On Wednesday morning, ITN, a British news broadcaster, uploaded this eyewitness account of the earthquake from Haitian radio DJ Carel Pedre:
Update | Wednesday | 2:55 a.m. The Associated Press interviewed airline passengers in Miami who were on a plane that departed Port-au-Prince moments after the earthquake occurred.
Update | 11:59 p.m. My colleague Jennifer Preston has compiled this Twitter list of users of the social network who are in Haiti or providing useful information on the aftermath of the earthquake there. She also points to a TwitPic account which has images of victims of the quake.
Here are images of the presidential palace in Haiti before and after Tuesday’s earthquake:
Thony Belizaire/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Haiti’s presidential palace in 2004.
Reuters TV/Reuters The heavily damaged presidential palace on Tuesday evening.
My colleague Jeff Zeleny in Washington writes:
The White House said Tuesday evening that the Coast Guard was mobilizing cutters and aircraft to positions near Haiti to offer humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the earthquake. The assets deployed to the area, included:
A C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, a 210-foot reliance class cutter from Miami.
The Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot medium endurance cutters from Portsmouth, Va.
The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter from Portsmouth, N.H.
The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter from Key West, Fla.
Thanks to readers who have used the comment thread below this post to suggest some relief organizations that will be providing assistance to the victims of the catastrophe in Haiti. One reader draws our attention to the fact that the organization Partners in Health posted an e-mail message from one of its staff member in Haiti’s capital earlier this evening on its Web site:
In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.”
Update | 11:02 p.m. Tequila Minsky, a New York-based photographer who is staying at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince — which was the model for the Haitian hotel in Graham Greene’s novel “The Comedians” — told my colleague Patrick Witty, a photo editor on the New York Times foreign desk, what she saw immediately after the earthquake. She had arrived at the hotel just two hours before the quake struck, shaking the walls of her room shook and knocking things off it.
She immediately went out and started taking pictures on the surrounding streets. The wall at the front of the hotel had fallen down and killed someone. A number of nearby buildings had collapsed, trapping people. A woman was crying and saying, “My uncle, my uncle.” A bank building was very badly damaged in the Rue Capois which runs along the side of the hotel. People were screaming. “It was general mayhem,” she said.
By 6:30, she said, it was dark and fires were burning downtown, near the shoreline. She spoke to The Times via Skype since no phones were working earlier this evening.
Update | 10:47 p.m. Here is some video of the aftermath of the earthquake shot before nightfall on Tuesday in Haiti’s capital. The first clip — Reuters video via a CBS News channel on YouTube — starts with images of the collapsed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince:
This report from Britain’s Sky News also shows the damaged capital, and includes some of the same footage:
Update | 10:41 p.m. Troy Livesay, a Christian missionary working in Haiti’s capital wrote on Twitter earlier:
Phones and internet are mostly out – we don’t have either at home – radio says the Palace fell down …
most people are staying outside in our area – aftershocks are still continuing…a neighbor was in a school that collapsed
I can’t imagine the devastation this has caused to such an overly stressed city – I think it will be suffering for quite some time.
we can’t get through to the other orphanages/ministries here – no phones and lots of panic
In our area mostly exterior walls fallen – people afraid to re-enter their homes…
About two hours ago he added that someone “made it home from Carrefour,” west of Port-au-Prince, closer to the epicenter of the earthquake, and “saw many dead bodies and injured along the way – said most buildings w/more than one story are down.”
Update | 10:29 p.m. The Haitian Twitter user Frederic Dupoux — @fredodupoux — writes that, despite what we heard via Haitian television earlier, “no phones are working,” at least where he is. He appeals to the local companies, “Digicel Voila ! restore phone service ASAP.”
He also writes in two updates posted within the past hour:
Just came back from Caribbean Super Market. It looks like ground zero. people are trapped it’s dark we need light and cell phone service.
It’s really ugly, just like in a bad dream. people need help, get out and help!
Update | 10:25 p.m. Thanks to a reader who pointed us to this partial list of Twitter users who say they are in Haiti compiled by the Los Angeles Times.
Update | 10:00 p.m. The Web site Haitifeed.com has video and photographs of some of the damage caused by the earthquake, including a striking image of what it says is the collapsed Palais National,, Haiti’s presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince. Earlier, the French news agency AFP reported that Haitian television streaming online said that the country’s presidential palace and numerous other government buildings had “collapsed.”
An image uploaded to the Web on Tuesday by a Twitter user who said it showed the collapsed presidential palace in Haiti’s capital after an earthquake struck.
Similar images have been pouring into this page on PicFog, which is a stream of photographs uploaded to the Web by Twitter users.
More images of badly damaged buildings appeared on Facebook, including several on a page called “Together For Haiti.”
Haiti Feed’s Twitter account — @Haitifeed — is being updated frequently as new material is added to the site.
Update | 9:29 p.m. Among the many thousand messages about the impact of the quake on Twitter are some from users of the social network who appear to be located in Haiti and are using the service to share information about what they have observed and heard.
The account @InternetHaiti points to this live Skype interview (in French and English) on the Web now with Paolo Chilosi, who is in Haiti.
The person updating the same account also points out that aftershocks of more than 5.0 “are continuing.”
The Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean is using his @wyclef Twitter account to appeal to people to donate money to help the victims of the earthquake, writing:
Warriors Donate to Earthquake relief in Haiti text Yele to 501 501 and visit http://www.yele.org
The singer — whose uncle Raymond Alcide Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States spoke to Katie Couric on CBS News on Tuesday evening — also appealed to Haitian expats to call for American military aid for the nation:
We need the U.S. military as soon as possible n Haiti. We need the 4 million Haitian that live out side of Haiti to Act now, we need da world!
In a reply to Mr. Jean, Al Sharpton wrote on his Twitter feed, @TheRevAl:
@wyclef supplies and manpower. You direct us and we will mobilize to the right place to help. The WORLD must stand with Haiti NOW!
Also on Twitter, the @RedCross account provided these two updates on its relief efforts:
Our support is w Haiti. We are accepting donations to our Intl Response Fund. http://bit.ly/4WodAv Follow http://newsroom.redcross.org
American Red Cross is pledging an initial $200,000 to assist those impacted by the earthquake in Haiti. http://bit.ly/4XMCoB
Ann Curry, an NBC News journalist, notes on her Twitter feed, @AnnCurry:
State Department has a # for Americans seeking info about family in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747
The Associated Press notes “The State Department advises that some callers may receive a recording because of heavy volume of calls.”
In Haiti, a Twitter user filing updates as @fredodupoux wrote simply:
if anyone in haiti is reading this, please go out and help in the streets, it’s very ugly out there if you haven’t seen it
Another Twitter user, @Audio_Rydeout, who is in Cite Soleil, Haiti, used his feed in part to complain about what he was seeing on American television, writing that a woman on CNN “is talking bout Haiti is a ‘violent’ nation should ppl on the streets tonight worry….”
The Web site of the Haitian television station Haitipal is streaming a live discussion, mainly in Creole, with callers who still have mobile phone service sharing information on what they have witnessed and asking for help.
A source who speaks Creole tells The Lede that Haitipal sems to be getting calls from people with phones on a local cell network called Voila, which is owned by Trilogy International Partners, an American company that operates mobile phone networks in countries including Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic.
A short news release posted on the Web site of Trilogy International Partners on Tuesday says:
Our team in Haiti, which operates the wireless carrier Voila, has been working nonstop to assess the damage and impact to our network as we know the community greatly relies upon us for communication; we can confirm that the Voila network continues to be operational.
usgs.gov An image of the part of Haiti affected by 7.0 magnitude earthquake from the Web site of the U.S. Geological Survey.
In New York, which has a large community of Haitian expatriates, Garry Pierre-Pierre wrote on the Web site of The Haitian Times in Brooklyn:
Leaders in the Haitian community felt powerless as yet another calamity has hit their native country. With no communication to Haiti in the last three yours, people called each other to see if anyone had heard anything. The suspense is sending a chill as people try to imagine the extent of this catastrophe.
Four hours ago, a major earthquake shook the capital city to its core and left Port-au-Prince into a smoke haze.
At this moment, the number of death and people injured are not known. People could be heard screaming and crying. The metropolitan area is home to two million people in an area originally planned for 200,000. Houses are poorly constructed with lax codes, if any.
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