200,000 may be dead in Haiti quake

200,000 may be dead in Haiti quake


People cover their faces as they walk past bodies lying in the street in Port-au-Prince on Friday. APAs many as 200,000 people died in the earthquake that devastated Haiti and three-quarters of the capital, Port-au-Prince, will need to be rebuilt, authorities in the Caribbean country said on Friday.

"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies. We anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number," Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told Reuters.

Some 40,000 bodies had been buried in mass graves, said Secretary of State for Public Safety Aramick Louis.

If the casualty figures turn out to be accurate, the 7.0 magnitude quake that hit impoverished Haiti on Tuesday would be one of the 10 deadliest earthquakes ever recorded.

Three days after it struck, gangs of robbers had begun preying on survivors living in makeshift camps on sidewalks and streets strewn with rubble and decomposing bodies, as quake aftershocks rippled through the hilly neighborhoods.

President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive were living in and coordinating the government response from judicial police headquarters near the airport and their main concern was that desperation was turning to violence in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.

"I do not have a home, I do not have a telephone, this is my palace now," the shell-shocked president, whose government house collapsed in the quake, told Reuters in an interview.

"We have to make sure there is gas available ... for the trucks collecting the bodies. The hospitals are full, they are overwhelmed," Preval said. 

Authorities reported some looting and growing anger among survivors despairing over the delay in life-saving assistance, as the United States and other nations rushed to deliver food, water and medical supplies through a jammed airport, a smashed seaport and roads littered with rubble.

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