Haiti: voices after the earthquake zone

News and Press Release
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(Washington, DC) January 14, 2010 - Two days after the powerful earthquake brought more devastation to the island of Haiti, eyewitness accounts from aid workers, Jesuits and others in the country are being shared.

... just a quick note to let people know things are OK (here in Wanament). Five minutes before the earthquake I was out on the street playing the fiddle for a group of kids that came and asked "if I could come out and play?" I was in the house when the quake began and I ran outside when it happened. The aftershocks kept coming even into the evening. The power is out and we are currently getting power from the generator.

The capital, on the other side of the country, was hit hard. We have had no communication from the Jesuits in the capital because phones and cell phones are not working. I expect that the Fe y Alegria School, near the epicenter, probably was hit hard.

Jim Boynton, SJ January 13, 2010

The worst news I received is the death of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot - an important man for the Church in Haiti. I wrote to ... (a colleague at) Radio Soleil, but didn't get a response. ... He must be very affected by the death of his bishop. I don't know what to say.

Pierre Bélanger, SJ Coordonnateur international - Réseau Étoile - Haïti January 13, 2010

The situation is very serious.

Even though the Ouanaminthe and the Northeast area have not been greatly affected we still feel the aftershocks here. There are thousands of dead bodies currently on the streets of Port-au-Prince. More than 60 percent of the houses have collapsed in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The National Palace, the main building offices of the State, schools and institutions that belong to the Catholic Church no longer exist. Residences of religious, the roof of the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, the Archbishop's house etc.; all have collapsed. The body of the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince was found under the rubble.

Supermarkets, banks, trade houses, radio and television stations, hospitals ... all have collapsed. The administrator of the General Hospital, the largest health institution in the capital, said it collapsed with many patients already inside and while many wounded were being brought in. People spent the night in the streets and in the open for fear of new collapses following the earthquake. Throughout the night and even this morning there have been many aftershocks.

This morning: UN headquarters in Bourdon collapsed and left 11 dead; among whom are eight Brazilians and three Chinese. A population of 2.5 million in the city of Port-au-Prince is in the state of shock. It will be days before they can get an exact death toll; already there are thousands counted dead.

Perard C. Monestime, S.J. January 13, 2010

We are in Canape Vert with Fr. Kawas, S.J. (the Jesuit Superior for Haiti). We visited the Jesuit novitiate in Tabare and later CRS in Delma. The latter is prepared to receive our assistance (water, ready to eat canned food, medicines, hygiene kits, tents). They will receive it in their stores of distribution.

We have not yet reached the most affected parts of the country and yet what we've seen already is disastrous. Many are dead, many have been placed in mass graves. Many others are still under the rubble. After coordinating actions with Kawas we are continuing to the center Port-au-Prince, then on to Carrefour and Cite Soleil. Fr. Kawas tells us these places are those that were most affected by the earthquake.

What is clear is that machinery to rescue people under rubble are not seen. We have seen many people in small camps, covered with sheets. Tents are needed urgently.

Most of all it is water that is needed now.... A water unit has been brought from the Dominican border for that purpose. Portable toilets will certainly be needed. The hospitals are crowded out of medicine and short of staff. Luckily it's not raining, we pray to God no rain falls ....

Mario Serrano, JRS Dominican Republic Director of JRS, who is leading a team into the earthquake devastated areas of Haiti. January 14, 2010

For bank transfers to JRS International:


Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Roma (Italy), Ag. 12

ABI: 05696 - CAB: 03212


Account name: JRS

Account number for euros: 3410/05

IBAN: IT86Y 05696 03212 000003410X05

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