Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The latest on Haiti (100,000 Dead?)

I was looking for a New Zealand story yesterday afternoon when the news hit and we posted
"Can't Catch a Break: 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Haiti-Tsunami Warnings".
I don't post on most natural disasters but this one was different. The strength of the quake combined with the proximity of the epicenter to Port-au-Prince meant this could be calamitous.
From Foreign Policy's Passport blog:

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says that more than 100,000 might have died due to the earthquake and its aftershocks, calling the death toll "unimaginable."

Emergency services are on the ground and on the way. The United States might move ships, and is sending urban search and rescue teams in a trial for the new, young USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah. President Obama has promised humanitarian support.

Seismologists have predicted the quake in Haiti for years, even if there hasn't been one for more than two centuries -- some even saying it was overdue. Seismologist Roger Musson describes the quake as "the big one." A Haitian newspaper in 2008 published a warning about the possibility of earthquakes in Port-au-Prince; a 2007 study foresaw the earthquake as well.

Reports suggest that a majority of buildings in Port-au-Prince have suffered damage or fallen. Very few of the buildings in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, were up to Western-standard building codes.

Haiti-native Joel Dreyfuss over at our sister publication The Root has an excellent meditative essay on his country, which starts with the withering line, "Some countries are just not lucky." James Ridgeway at Mother Jones has a good article on Bush administration policy towards the country, and criticizes the Obama administration for doing too little as well.

Reuters has an excellent breaking news feed on Haiti; here is a good Twitter feed from people on the ground in the country. Chris Sacca has a good list of ways to help by donating.