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EU to send police officers to Haiti

The European Union has announced that it will send a police force consisting of up to 350 officers to Haiti, following the recent magnitude 7.0 earthquake there, which is thought to have killed up to 200,000 people and left 1.5 million without homes.

“There is an agreement on a collective contribution of gendarmes,” said a European diplomat to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, commented: “All the countries which form part of the European police force are willing to participate; France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania, are ready to offer personnel, each according to its capabilities. Together we will represent the EU in this role of guaranteeing the security and above all the arrival of the emergency aid which the Haitians’ need.” Read More…

Strong aftershock rocks Haiti again

A strong earthquake has once again struck Haiti, eight days after a 7.0 magnitude quake left much of the nation in ruins.

The US Geological Survey said the latest tremor had a magnitude of 6.1 and was centered 59 kilometres from the capital Port-au-Prince, which was devastated by the initial quake. It occurred at 06.03 local time (11.03 UTC).

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the aftershock, which comes as an international aid effort is underway to help those affected by last week’s powerful earthquake. Read More…

Senegal president offers free land to Haitians

Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal, has offered free land in his country to Haitians who were affected by the recent 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Abdoulaye Wade

Wade described his offer as “repatriation”, as he said Haitians were descendents from Africa since Haiti was founded by slaves, some of which were thought to be from Senegal.

“The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin,” said Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye, the president’s spokesman.

“If it is just a few people, we will offer them a roof and a patch of land,” he added, speaking to the France Info radio station. “If they come in large numbers, we will give them a whole region.” Read More…

Aid struggles to reach Haitians

Countries and relief organisations around the world are sending aid to Haiti, which was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday, affecting up to three million people, most of them in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Haitian Port

Relief efforts, however, have been hampered by damaged or destroyed infrastructure, lack of shelter, and communications difficulties. The main port, meanwhile, was severely damaged, and unable to handle any cargo.

As of today, at least 300,000 people were estimated to be homeless in the capital, according to the United Nations; the organisation reports that one in ten buildings completely collapsed due to the tremors and resulting aftershocks. The UN said it believes 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed by the quake, while Haitian President Rene Preval said that seven thousand bodies were buried in a mass grave.

Port-au-Prince’s main airport remained open as of today, and relief airplanes were arriving faster than they could be unloaded, prompting fears that planes could run out of fuel while waiting their turn to land. Read More…

France calls Paris Club for cancellation of Haiti’s Debt

France has asked the Paris Club of creditor nations to speed up the process of canceling Haiti’s debt, economy minister Christine Lagarde says she has contacted other members of the Paris Club to accelerate the cancellation of Haiti’s debt of nearly $78 million.

Christine Lagarde

Haiti did owe $84 million.  But Lagarde says about $6 million has been canceled since Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

France chairs the Paris Club, which in July agreed to cancel most of the debt owed by Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

In addition to France, the Paris Club includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

On Thursday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy called for an international conference on rebuilding Haiti, a former French colony. Read More…

Haiti earthquake; thousands feared dead

A massive earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, struck Haiti yesterday, destroying many buildings, disrupting communications, and burying an unknown number of people underneath rubble. Thousands of people are feared to have been killed by the tremors, which were felt as far away as Venezuela.

Witnesses say bodies were lining the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, after the quake struck on Tuesday afternoon, sending a cloud of dust from falling buildings into the sky. The quake was centered about sixteen kilometers from the capital, and struck at a depth of just ten kilometers, exacerbating the damage. Several aftershocks were also recorded, the strongest of which came in at 5.5 and 5.9 magnitude. Read More…

Aftermath video Haiti earthquake

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Haiti earlier today at 21:53 UTC, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), no tsunami warning was issued, contradicting some media reports that said there was one in place. The quake’s magnitude was revised down from an initial report of 7.3 on the Richter scale.

The USGS reports that the epicentre was fifteen kilometres (ten miles) southwest of Port-au-Prince and 1,140 kilometers (708 miles) southeast of Miami, Florida, at a depth of ten kilometers.

According to USGS analyst Dale Grant, this tremor was “the largest quake recorded in this area”; the last strong quake was in 1984, and had a magnitude of 6.7, he noted.

“Everybody is just totally, totally freaked out and shaken. The sky is just gray with dust,” said Henry Bahn, an official with the US Department of Agriculture who was visiting in Haiti and a witness to the incident. “I just held on and bounced across the wall. I just hear a tremendous amount of noise and shouting and screaming in the distance,” he commented, as quoted by the Associated Press. Read More…