Passport

First-person accounts from Haiti

First-person accounts of the "biblical" disaster in Haiti, in the words of U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton, are starting to filter out, 24 hours after it occurred. From The Guardian: "Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me," a female voice pleaded with a Reuters journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten ...

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images

First-person accounts of the "biblical" disaster in Haiti, in the words of U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton, are starting to filter out, 24 hours after it occurred.

From The Guardian:

"Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me," a female voice pleaded with a Reuters journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten in the Canape-Vert district.

Police and rescue vehicles were absent from many areas. "People are trying to dig victims out with flashlights," said Rachmani Domersant, an operations manager with the Food for the Poor charity.

Aftershocks rocked those buildings that still stood, causing fresh panic, but dwindled in power as the night wore on….

Those who could not save the living started taking dead from rubble, a foot here, a hand there, and lined the bodies side by side under a sheet. Survivors peeked under the covers to see if they were friends and relatives.

"The whole city is in darkness. You have thousands of people sitting in the streets with nowhere to go. The traffic is jammed," one eyewitness, Michael Bazile, told CNN. "Everybody is yelling. They are praying. They are crying." As dawn broke people wandered the streets holding hands. Helicopters whirred overhead – the first sign of aid. Thousands crammed into hospitals with fractures and burn injuries.

From an American couple, to CBS via HuffPo

Frank Thorp told CBS’s "The Early Show" by phone from Haiti on Wednesday that he drove 100 miles to Port-au-Prince once he learned of the quake, and dug for over an hour to free his wife, Jillian, and her co-worker Charles Dietsch. The two were trapped under about a foot of concrete, he said. "It was absolutely terrifying," Thorp said.

Thorp said he was in an area about 6 hours north of the capital when the temblor struck. He got a quick call from his wife telling him she was trapped, and that was all. So he began his long drive toward the devastation.

Meanwhile, the woman’s father said, other colleagues were feverishly working to dig the two out as she directed them where to focus the search. Arriving at the destroyed house, Thorp said he saw his wife’s hand from under the rubble and heard her tell him to keep it together and just get her out.

"We had to pull bricks and bricks and bricks and wood and doors and metal away for at least an hour before we were able to get her and her co-worker out," he said.

And in CNN

Robert Poff, director of disaster services for the Salvation Army in Haiti, added: "Words cannot begin to describe the devastation that has taken place in Port au Prince, Haiti.

"When the earthquake struck, I was driving down the mountain from Petionville (just outside the capital). Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings "pancaking" down, like I have never witnessed before.

"Traffic, of course, came to a standstill, while thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them. We piled as many bodies (as possible) into the back of our truck, and took them down the hill with us, hoping to find medical attention.

"All of them were older, scared, bleeding, and terrified. It took about 2 hours to go less than 1 mile. Traffic was horrible, devastation was everywhere, and suffering humanity was front and center."

Stories such as these emphasize the importance of today and tomorrow. Disaster experts describe the first 24 to 72 hours as the most crucial to save lives. The United States, United Nations, and other countries and bodies are racing to send emergency search-and-rescue teams to the country — but the infrastructure was so scant before and so damaged now, it makes it much harder. 

Haiti’s president himself seemed bewildered by the devasation when speaking on CNN today — he mentioned that, with his palace destroyed, he had no idea where he would sleep tonight.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola