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Haitians flee ravaged city

world Updated: Jan 20, 2010 00:59 IST

Wharf Jeremie on this city’s edge was all chaos and destruction on Monday, with upturned shipping containers lying in the sea and pigs foraging on piles of refuse. But for a thousand or more seeking a ride on rickety boats away from the ruined capital, the wharf was a means to something hopeful: escape.

The exodus accelerated from the capital on Monday, by boat, bus, car and truck, in uncertain quest for shelter, fresh water and stability in the countryside.

They sought to leave an anarchic city marked by acute shortages of basic goods and aid efforts hampered by bottlenecks and security fears.

There seemed no certainty on any front, not even the death toll from the huge earthquake that struck on January 12. Alain Le Roy, the U.N. peacekeeping chief, said he could not confirm estimates of as many as 2,00,000 dead. He said that as far as he knew, the toll has not surpassed 50,000 dead.

Bus after bus lined up at gas stations throughout the city, hoping to fill up with fuel before beginning the long trek into Haiti’s interior. Some lugged overstuffed suitcases; others carried little more than the clothes they were wearing and enough money to pay the heightened travel fares. The displaced were streaming out even as more relief, aid workers and U.S. troops were arriving.

The United Nations World Food Program said it planned to distribute 200 tonnes of food aid to 95,000 people at eight locations.

Many business owners here have not opened their doors for fear of mobs ransacking their operations and stealing their products.

The New York Times

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