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 CNS Story:

HAITI-INJURED Jan-13-2010 (380 words) With photos. xxxi

Chaotic conditions in Port-au-Prince limit rescue, recovery efforts

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince remained in a state of disorder and confusion at mid-afternoon Jan. 13 and little information was available on the number of casualties resulting from a devastating earthquake, a spokesman for Catholic Relief Services said.

"It is chaos there. Nobody knows how many people are killed or injured at this point," John Rivera, CRS director of communications, told Catholic News Service.

Meanwhile, seriously injured Americans were being evacuated throughout the day Jan. 13. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said a military team was on the ground assessing the situation in preparation for the U.S. response to the devastating natural disaster.

Detailed reports of casualties nearly a day after the magnitude 7 quake shook the area around the capital were limited because telephone, cell phone and Internet services were sporadic.

In addition, rescue and recovery efforts were limited because of a lack of emergency equipment and heavy machinery. People were reported to be digging through rubble by hand in heroic efforts to rescue people and recover bodies.

The few casualty reports that were received came during brief exchanges between Americans working in Haiti on a variety of projects and their sponsors in the U.S.

Emily Smack, executive director of Haitian Ministries for the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., said three staff people were injured, two severely, when the program's mission house in Port-au-Prince was leveled during the quake.

Americans Jillian Thorp, acting director of the program, and consultant Chuck Dietsch were trapped under debris for nearly 10 hours until co-workers were able to free them, Smack reported. Thorp was badly bruised and cut while Dietsch suffered a broken leg and broken ribs.

The third staff member, a cook who has been with the program for 22 years, was on the first floor of the house when it collapsed. She lost one leg and was in danger of losing her other leg, Smack said.

"I talked with our assistant director who helped dig them out and he said no matter which way you look it's just crumpled houses," she said.

The program supports two orphanages, housing a total of 108 children. Smack said staff members were unaware of how the orphanages fared but were hoping to make their way across town to check on them at some point Jan. 13.


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