Long backlogs of patients injured in the Haiti earthquake are building at medical clinics as aid workers warn of more deaths from untreated injuries and disease in overcrowded makeshift camps.
The warnings come as the US prepares to send 4,000 more troops to Haiti to help the relief effort. The new contingent of soldiers diverted from deployments in the Gulf and Africa will take the US presence to about 16,000 troops.
Earth-moving equipment is being used in an effort to speed up the burial of 200,000 people estimated to have died in last week’s disaster while estimates of those made homeless have leapt by a third to 2 million.
Governments around the world have so far pledged a total of nearly $1bn aid, the Associated Press estimated.
The further US support came after a strong aftershock jolted Port-au-Prince on Thursday, complicating relief efforts.
A magnitude 5.9 quake, the most powerful aftershock since the January 12 cataclysm, rattled ruins in the capital and sowed panic but caused no serious reported casualties.
Seismologists said the epicentre was about 35 miles south-west of the city and the focus was six miles deep. They warned of possible stronger aftershocks to come as the earth adjusted to new stresses caused by the original quake.
Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Médecins sans Frontières in Haiti, said: “The next health risk could include outbreaks of diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and other diseases among hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or non-existent sanitation.”
About 80,000 people are thought to have been buried in mass graves so far.