Haiti

Search and rescue teams on their way to help Haiti

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Search and rescue teams are on their way to Haiti with clean water, food and shelter.

A Chinese rescue team is already on the ground as well as two US teams with more heavy equipment. Other contributing countries are Iceland, and the Dominican Republic.

Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, says every minute counts and that his first priority is to rescue people trapped under the rubble.

"We are extremely concerned about the fate of the general population in Port au Prince and the areas outside Port au Prince and we are mobilizing every effort we can to stop the humanitarian operation. The first part is search and rescue because many people, not just in the UN buildings, but elsewhere are trapped under rubble".

Three to three and a half million people are believed to be affected by the earthquake not only in Port au Prince, says Holmes, but in its surroundings.

There is a desperate need for medical teams and supplies, he adds, and hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of injured.

Many people are on the streets and unable to return to their homes. Food and clean water is urgently needed.

Ten million dollars from the Central Emergency Relief Fund has already been released to kick start the operation.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations Radio

(duration: 1'09")

Sound bites

John Holmes, UN humanitarian chief

"We are extremely concerned about the fate of the general population in Port au Prince and the areas outside Port au Prince and we are mobilizing every effort we can to stop the humanitarian operation. The first part is search and rescue because many people, not just in the UN buildings, but elsewhere are trapped under rubble".

Duration: 16 secs

John Holmes, UN humanitarian chief

"We believe that there are something like 3 to 3 and a half million people who live in areas affected by strong shaking from the earthquake. We have limited information about the impact of the earthquake not only in Port au Prince but also in surrounding areas but we also know for example in the city of Jacmel, which I think is in the North-west of Port au Prince, there are many buildings down there too. And the town of Carrefour which is not far from Port au Prince which has also been significantly affected while the town of Gonaive which was badly affected by the cyclones a year ago, has not been so badly affected as far as we know."

Duration: 39 secs

John Holmes, UN humanitarian chief

"There is also a desperate need for medical help, medical teams, medical supplies. The hospitals have been very badly affected I think such hospitals that are working are being overwhelmed by the number of injured and their injuries. So that is another very urgent need. Otherwise clean water is an urgent need too in the absence of a properly functioning water supply, food is needed, shelter will be needed, because many people are on the streets and unable to return to their homes."

Duration: 34 secs

John Holmes, UN humanitarian chief

"There is a very significant and generous international response already under way and I welcome that very much because as I say this is a major humanitarian crisis and the needs are going to be extremely great. The advantage we do have in this particular case is that we do have humanitarian agencies on the ground already there functioning. They have been there from previous crises not least the cyclones of 2008 so that we have a head start but obviously all the agencies including OCHA ourselves, including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the NGOs are mobilizing extra staff, extra teams and relief supplies as fast they can."

Duration: 42 secs