Turning pickup trucks into ambulances and doors into stretchers, Haitians were frantically struggling to save those injured in this week’s earthquake as desperately needed aid from around the world began arriving on Thursday.
The final death toll could be “well over 1,00,000,” Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive had told CNN on Wednesday.
An Air China plane carrying a Chinese search-and-rescue team, medics and tonnes of food and medicine landed at Port-au-Prince airport before dawn, joining three French planes with aid and a mobile hospital, officials said. A British relief team arrived in neighbouring Dominican Republic.
The U.S. and other nations said they were sending food, water, medical supplies to assist the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where the international Red Cross estimated 3 million people — a third of the population — may need emergency relief.
In the streets of the capital, survivors set up camps amid piles of salvaged goods, including food being scavenged from the rubble. “This is much worse than a hurricane,” said Jimitre Coquillon, a doctor’s assistant working at a makeshift triage center set up in a hotel parking lot. “There’s no water. There’s nothing. Thirsty people are going to die.”
Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun in 90-degree heat.