Girl saved after 15 days, Haiti pleads for better aid effort / PHOTO

Rescuers pulled a teenage girl out of the rubble 15 days after her Port-au-Prince home collapsed around her.

Girl saved after 15 days, Haiti pleads for better aid effort / PHOTO


Haiti appealed to foreign governments and charities on Wednesday to do more to help earthquake victims as rescuers pulled a teenage girl out of the rubble 15 days after her Port-au-Prince home collapsed around her.

She was severely dehydrated and had a leg injury but was conscious when she was dragged out of the rubble by French and Haitian rescuers.

"I don't know how she happened to resist that long. It's a miracle," said rescue worker J.P. Malaganne, adding that the girl, named Darline, was happy, shocked and crying.

"She will live. She is only 16 years old and she has her whole life ahead of her," said Colonel Michel Orcel, a French doctor. "We are providing the care she needs and she will be OK."

Someone heard the girl's voice and urged local Red Cross and civil protection workers to send rescuers to the site, said Stephan Sadak, a member of the French rescue team.

The girl was trapped between a collapsed wall and a door in the remains of her home near a school in Haiti's coastal capital, which was destroyed by a Jan. 12 earthquake.

"She was able to survive because she wasn't crushed by the rubble and there was a space where she could lie down," Sadak told Reuters.

Rescuers did not know if she had water or food with her. "It's possible she may have had something, but not much," Sadak said.

One man fed her candy as rescuers neared her and a throng of neighbors cheered as she was pulled free 90 minutes after they arrived.

More than 130 people have been rescued from the rubble since the quake hit, surprising experts who believed they would not find so many survivors.

"It's not at all usual. It's exceptional," said Sadak.

Haitians are still appealing to search teams to go to new sites.

"We are the best team in the world!" the elated crew shouted in French after she was taken away by ambulance to a field hospital.

"Better organization"

International charities pouring a jumble of aid into Haiti must work better together to reach and help survivors of the catastrophic earthquake, President Rene Preval said.

President Rene Preval said Haiti would indefinitely postpone Feb. 28 parliamentary elections and he would not seek to stay in office after his term expires in February 2011.

That means his government will have just over one year to rebuild the impoverished Caribbean nation before handing off the task to new leadership.

Aid groups and troops from around the world have struggled to distribute food, water and medical care to an estimated 3 million Haitians injured or left homeless in the magnitude-7.0 earthquake.

"I am not in a position to criticize anybody, not in the least people who have come here to help me," Preval told a news conference. "What I am staying is, what everybody is saying is, that we need a better coordination."

Some food handouts have turned ugly, with U.N. peacekeepers using tear gas and warning shots to control jostling crowds. People housed in ragtag encampments around Port-au-Prince have complained that no food has reached them.

"In my job, we have two ways of doing things," Preval told Reuters in an interview. "In the way politicians traditionally do, you go to the hospitals, you cry with the victims. Or you can sit, and work, and find the right way to bring assistance to the people. I chose to do the second."

"Money going to NGOs"

Preval said he believes Haiti must decentralize.

"Long term, we need to create jobs in the provinces," he told Reuters. "Because we run the risk of having overcrowded big cities, with anarchic construction and the risk that the same thing could happen again."

He acknowledged the intense task ahead -- 20,000 commercial buildings have collapsed or must be razed, as well as 225,000 residences. However, he said Haiti has begun to come back.

"On the 13th of January, we woke up without telephones, with thousands of dead on the streets, and today telephones are working, there are no more bodies in the streets. We have collected more than 150,000, but there are still bodies under the rubble and will see how we can get them," he said.

"Gas stations are working normally, commercial activities have resumed. In 15 days, a lot of progress has been made."

At the news conference, Preval said he was grateful for fund-raising around the world.

"The Haitian government has not seen one cent of that money that has been raised for Haiti. I presume that that means the money is going to NGOs," he said, referring to non-governmental aid groups.

Preval said a Puerto Rican group had presented him with a shipping receipt showing it donated $3.5 million of aid to feed Haitians. Preval said he asked, "Where is the food?" and was told it had already been given to aid groups.

"New amputees"

Doctors in chronically impoverished Haiti say the quake had created perhaps tens of thousands of new amputees whose limbs were crushed by collapsing buildings or removed to save their lives after gangrene infected their untreated wounds. With so many hospitals and clinics destroyed, there was little chance they would get the therapy they need, doctors said.

"The future for people with both legs was already quite grim. What can be done for them?" said Dr. Lafontaine St. Louis, whose clinic made prosthetic limbs and provided physical therapy before the quake.

The devastating earthquake also unleashed fears that child-eating spirits, mythological figures entrenched in Haitian culture, are prowling homeless camps in search of young prey.

Nighttime patrols have been set up in some homeless camps to deter the 'loup-garou,' a spirit of Haitian folklore said to turn people into beasts to suck the blood of babies and young children. In one camp, residents described beating a man almost to death after he tried to take a baby during the night.

Ministers have been fighting high prices linked to scarcity after the quake. Finance Minister Ronald Baudin said the price of rice has dropped. "And now that we are taking measures to make sure everything is available, I think prices will reflect the realities of the market," he said.


Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2010, 12:07
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