Haiti: death toll climbs to 230,000

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  • Haiti's government has raised the death toll for the 12 Jan earthquake to 230,000 from 212,000 and said more bodies remain uncounted...

    Haiti’s government has raised the death toll for the January 12 earthquake to 230,000 from 212,000 and says more bodies remain uncounted. The new figure gives the quake the same death toll as the 2004 Asian tsunami.

    The government initially estimated that 150,000 had been killed by the quake on Jan. 24, but Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, the communications minister, said the figure had now risen but was not definitive and did not include bodies buried by private funeral homes in private cemeteries or the dead buried by their own families.

    It comes as aid groups warned that disease could kill hundreds more in the second phase of the country’s medical emergency. Doctors said diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory infections and malnutrition was already claiming lives by the dozen.

    And while the half-million people jammed into germ-breeding makeshift camps have so far been spared a contagious-disease outbreak, health officials fear epidemics. They are rushing to vaccinate 530,000 children against measles, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

    ‘It’s still tough,’ said Chris Lewis, emergency health coordinator for Save the Children. ‘At the moment we’re providing lifesaving services. What we’d like to do is to move to provide quality, longer-term care, but we’re not there yet.’

    Meanwhile, ten US missionaries from Idaho-based New Life Children’s Refuge charity accused of illegally trying to take 33 children out of Haiti are soon to be released.

    A Haitian judicial source said the missionaries, who were stopped at Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic on January 29, could be granted conditional leave and released as early as Thursday.

    The ten Americans have always maintained that they had no ill-intent when they tried to take the children across the border.


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