Haiti's government has raised the death toll for the Jan. 12 earthquake to 230,000 from 212,000 as a rice vendor "survived 27 days trapped under the rubble of a flea market."
The man — identified as Evans Monsigrace — told doctors he had just finished selling rice for the day at a downtown Port-au-Prince flea market when the quake hit. He said he didn't suffer any major injuries and was trapped on his side in an area where food and drink vendors were selling their goods.
Haiti also says more bodies remain uncounted.
Skeptical health workers said no one could live that long without water and the last confirmed survivor found was a 16-year-old girl removed from rubble 15 days after the Jan. 12 quake.
The government initially estimated 150,000 dead on Jan. 24, apparently from bodies being recovered in the rubble of collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince, the capital that was near the epicenter.
Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said Tuesday the government now counts 230,000 deaths.
But she says the new figure is not definitive. She says it does not include bodies buried by private funeral homes in private cemeteries or the dead buried by their own families.
250,000 houses destroyed
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said on Tuesday Haiti is still in a precarious situation with no clear idea of how to house 1 million people living in the streets,.
Bellerive said it could take his impoverished Caribbean nation three or four years to return to its pre-quake state and up to 10 years to rebuild 250,000 houses destroyed by the magnitude 7 temblor.
Planning for shelters and new homes is not far along and the number of spontaneous tent encampments around the city -- where most Haitians are living under plastic tarps or cloth bedsheets -- has grown to nearly 500, he said.
"We are still in a very difficult situation," Bellerive told Reuters. "We still don't have a clear vision of certain problems -- how we are going to relocate all those people."
Bellerive said conditions were improving in some areas, with better food distribution and better health services, but shelter remained the biggest problem for the government.
Sanitation in the camps, most of which have no toilets or water, was a big concern with the rainy season just weeks away, he said.
The government hopes to have latrines in place before the rain starts, but he said officials still needed to decide whether to try to move everyone into shelters and organized tent camps, or just leave some of the spontaneous encampments in place.
"We have to take some decisions ... how we are going to move everybody or accept in some places we are just going to accommodate those people because it won't be suitable to move them."
Although health officials have seen rising cases of tetanus and other ailments, Bellerive said there had been no major outbreaks of disease.
"We believe we are controlling any surge of any epidemics in Haiti," he said. "We don't have any epidemics in Haiti up until now."
The government has said 250,000 homes were destroyed by the earthquake, most of them in the capital. Asked how long it would take to rebuild those homes, Bellerive said: "A long time ... I've said 10 years. I say it will be at least three to four years to go back to the 11th of January."
$300 mln pledged
Meanwhile, South American countries will create a $300 million fund to help quake-shattered Haiti, regional leaders said after Haitian President Rene Preval appealed to them at a regional meeting.
The Unasur group of countries will ask the Inter-American Development Bank for a $200 million loan for the fund, and individual governments will raise another $100 million, according to a plan drawn up at a Unasur meeting in Quito.
Preval, speaking at the conference, appealed for help in "refounding" his impoverished Caribbean nation.
"This meeting is a gesture that shows the cooperation of South American countries with South America countries," Preval said, adding that Haiti's top priority was to rebuild roads and provide basic services.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who hosted the meeting and is trying to increase Unasur's profile, called for a sustained response based on "South-South cooperation."
"The massive and immediate aid provided by more industrialized countries is not always the most efficient," said Correa. "A lot of that is lost over the medium term, leaving the country weak and with serious distortions."
Donor nations have poured tens of millions of dollars into Haiti but the distribution of aid has sometimes been slow.
AgenciesLast Mod: 10 Şubat 2010, 11:50