Haiti provided a preliminary assessment of the earthquake’s body count on Saturday, putting it at over 150,000, and declared that the search for survivors would soon be coming to an end.
Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, Haiti’s culture and communications minister, said that 150,000 bodies from the streets had been collected and buried in the past 11 days.
She also said there were at least 250,000 people homeless and that 200,000 residents of Port-au-Prince and its outskirts had moved to the provinces since the earthquake hit.
It was unclear, however, how the government arrived at these numbers. The figure grew over the course of the day from 111,000 to 120,000 to 150,000 without detailed explanation.
Lassegue, in an interview under a mango tree at the police station that now serves as government headquarters, said the 150,000 bodies was a count of “what we have taken and disposed of,” not including family burials or bodies still trapped in the collapsed buildings. As recently as Wednesday, that government estimate was put at 75,000 bodies. But most Haitian and international officials have agreed that official efforts are better focused on helping the living than counting the dead.