Haiti death toll could reach 300,000: Preval

In-depth Report:

The death toll from last month’s devastating earthquake in Haiti could jump to 300,000 people, including the bodies buried under collapsed buildings in the capital, Haitian President Rene Preval said on Sunday.

“You have seen the images you are familiar with the pictures. More than 200,000 bodies were collected on the streets without counting those that are still under the rubble,” Preval told a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Mexico. “We might reach 300,000 people.”

That would make Haiti’s earthquake one of the most lethal natural disasters in modern history, more than the 200,000 people killed in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

The cost of rebuilding the impoverished country after the 7.0-magnitude quake could be as high as $14 billion, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

Preval’s plea for aid will be at the top of the agenda at the regional summit being held near the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen.

With 250,000 houses destroyed and 1.5 million people living in tent camps made with bed sheets and plastic scraps in nearly every open space in the collapsed capital of Port-au-Prince, Preval said the most urgent need is for emergency shelter.

Aid workers worry that squalid conditions in the camps, many which have no latrines or source of clean water, could lead to disease outbreaks when the rainy season begins in earnest in March.

“The first rainy days that have started falling in Port-au-Prince have made it impossible to enjoy a dignified life and this is the reason for the request for shelters,” Preval said.

Looking ahead to a meeting with international donors to determine the overall shape of rebuilding plans, Preval suggested Haiti should decentralize away from Port-au-Prince, which suffered the heaviest damages.

“We will not try to reconstruct but rather to refound the country, where we don’t concentrate ourselves in one capital,” Preval said. He encouraged Latin American countries to step up investments in industry to help Haiti free itself from dependence on international aid.

Articles by: Mica Rosenberg

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. The Centre of Research on Globalization grants permission to cross-post Global Research articles on community internet sites as long the source and copyright are acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original Global Research article. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: [email protected]

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: [email protected]