Large aftershock hits Haiti, collapsing buildings, sending screaming people in the streets

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - A frightening new aftershock Wednesday forced more earthquake survivors onto the capital's streets to live and sent others fleeing to the countryside, where aid was only beginning to reach wrecked towns.
The magnitude-5.9 jolt matched the strongest of the aftershocks that have followed the huge quake of Jan. 12 that devastated Haiti's capital.
The new temblor collapsed seven buildings in Petit-Goave, the seaside town closest to the epicentre, according to Mike Morton of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination agency, but there were no reports of people crushed or trapped, perhaps because the earlier quake frightened most people into sleeping outside.
Wails of terror erupted in Port-au-Prince, where the aftershock briefly interrupted rescue efforts amid the broken concrete of collapsed buildings, and prompted doctors and patients to flee the University Hospital.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon reported minor damage to the roof and second floor of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince after the aftershocks. No one was injured at the embassy, where 56 Canadians had sought refuge.
The death toll was estimated at 200,000, according to Haitian government figures relayed by the European Commission, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. The commission raised its estimate of homeless to 2 million, from 1.5 million, and said 250,000 people needed urgent aid.
Meanwhile, officials said 13 Canadians had been confirmed dead in Haiti by Wednesday; another 479 were missing.
UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told reporters in New York that two million Haitians will probably need food aid for six months, while the World Food Program and other donors so far have reached only about half a million "with reasonable quantities of food" so far.
The U.S. Navy's floating hospital, USNS Comfort, dropped anchor in view of the capital on Wednesday with about 550 medical staff, joining teams from about 30 other countries trying to treat the injured.
And the Pentagon announced that 2,000 more U.S. marines would be sent to Haiti, adding 11,500 U.S. military personnel already on the ground or on ships offshore - a number expected to reach 16,000 by week's end.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said more than 1,000 Canadian troops were on the ground. Upwards of 2,000 were expected by next week.
"This is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions," MacKay said. "Canada and the Canadian Forces want to be there, want to assist in whatever ways possible as part of this international response.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the aftershock was centred about 60 kilometres west-southwest of Port-au-Prince and 10 kilometres below the surface.
Wednesday's temblor matched the strongest of 49 aftershocks of magnitude-4.5 or greater that have followed the Jan. 12 quake and USGS geophysicist Bruce Pressgrave said nobody knows if a still-stronger aftershock is possible.
The shaking ripped 20-centimetre cracks in a road west of the capital near Leogane, where U.S. marines were setting up a post to aid quake victims who are sleeping in streets, culverts and driveways, often under tree branches draped with sheets to guard against the sun.
The latest quake, combined with a light rain on Tuesday, has complicated rescue efforts.
International aid teams have saved 121 people from the rubble, an unprecedented number, according to aid organization. Dr. Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director for the Pan American Health Organization, said that "countless more have been rescued by Haitians working with no equipment at all," he said.
With search dogs and detection gear, rescue teams worked into Wednesday night in hopes of finding buried survivors. But hopes were dimming.
"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and each day the needles are disappearing," said Steven Chin of the Los Angeles County rescue team.
One rescue was reported. The International Medical Corps (IMC) said it cared for a child found in quake ruins on Wednesday. The boy's uncle told doctors and a nurse with the Los Angeles-based organization that relatives pulled the five-year-old from the wreckage of his home after searching for a week, said Margaret Aguirre, an IMC spokeswoman in Haiti.
Elsewhere in the capital, two women were pulled from a destroyed university building. And near midnight Tuesday, a smiling and singing 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried to safety from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighbourhood by the French aid group Rescuers Without Borders.
Yet the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.
Governments have pledged nearly US$1 billion in aid, and thousands of tonnes of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. Port-au-Prince's nonfunctioning seaport and many impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.
Aid is still being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said it had raised the facility's daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180.
Canada is starting to ferry troops in through the airport of Jacmel, a southern coastal community that's becoming a regional hub for the delivery of aid.
The airstrip is small at present, making it a challenge for large planes to land, but it's being upgraded. Canada is providing lighting, and the navy ship HMCS Halifax offshore has radar to guide incoming and outgoing flights.
MacKay said in Ottawa that an "airfield activation team" was getting Jacmel's airstrip back in order and two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying relief supplies had already landed early Wednesday.
There is also an agreement to use a Jamaican airport as a transit point for Canadian military flights.
Canadian doctors have started to treat local people in Jacmel. Some of the Canadian personnel on the ground came via helicopter from the Halifax offshore.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the military will send a port-clearing ship with cranes aboard to Port-au-Prince to remove debris that is preventing many larger aid ships from docking.
The UN was sending in reinforcements as well: The Security Council voted Tuesday to add 2,000 peacekeepers to the 7,000 already in Haiti, and 1,500 more police to the 2,100-strong international force.
President Rene Preval stressed the relative quiet prevailing over much of Port-au-Prince. People understand, he told French radio, "it is through calmness (and) an even more organized solidarity that we're going to get out of this."
Concerns still persisted that looting and violence that flared up in pockets in recent days could spread. In downtown Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, dozens of men, women and children clambered over the rubble of a department store, hauling off clocks, lamps, towels, even women's hair extensions. Police stood nearby, not intervening.
The European Commission's report described the security situation as "deteriorating."

Organizations: U.S. Navy, European Commission, Coordination agency University Hospital Canadian Embassy International Medical Corps World Food Program Pan American Health Organization Pentagon Canadian Forces USGS Dominican Republic U.S. Air Force The Security Council

Geographic location: Haiti, PORT-AU-PRINCE, U.S. Canada Petit-Goave New York Jacmel Leogane Los Angeles County Petionville Ottawa Halifax

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