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Page last updated at 01:49 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Haiti desperate for help after quake

Haiti earthquake devastation as seen from the skies

By Andy Gallacher
BBC News, Haiti

The situation here in Port-au-Prince is now at a critical point, with rotting corpses beginning to fill the streets.

The cries of help that were being heard from the rubble have now been silenced - for many people it is simply too late.

Haitians feel very alone at the moment. The promise of aid has not yet materialised and many locals are still digging through the rubble with their hands.

Most of the bodies are covered in white bed sheets or rolled inside carpets, but others have been left exposed to the hot sun and the stench of rotting bodies has begun to fill the air.

People carry the body of a victim of Haiti's earthquake, 14 January 2010
Some bodies have been cleared, but others are piling up in the streets

Families who are desperately searching for their loved ones are gingerly uncovering the sheets that cover the corpses in the hope they can at least identify family members.

But even if bodies are identified there is nowhere for them to be laid to rest.

Mass graves are now appearing across the city.

The mood for the past 24 hours has been one of patience and solidarity, but there is now a sense of anger and frustration that could change the atmosphere here drastically.

"This is not the time to blame anybody. This is a natural disaster, only God knows why it happened," says Louinel Staibord, who came to Port-Au-Prince from Florida to find his family.

"I believe that this is the time where everyone should help each other, this is a time for generosity, we should sympathise with each other."

Schools hit

Louinel is one of the lucky ones, he has now found all his family members alive and well.

Haitians can only depend on international help because the infrastructure here is decimated

The rescue effort and the promises of help are now desperately needed, but so far the fresh supplies of water, food and medical equipment are still in short supply.

Some of the worst hit buildings were schools.

Several had more than 1,000 pupils inside when the massive earthquake hit, and there is little left but concrete blocks piled one on top of another.

The bodies of children and adults can clearly be seen, and most will remain that way until the rescue teams get on the ground.

At night Port-au-Prince grows eerily quiet.

Most people are still too afraid to take shelter inside the buildings. Tremors are still being felt here and even the hospitals are treating their patients in the grounds.

The airport, rapidly becoming the centre of this rescue effort, is in full working order.

The building was damaged but there is power and the runway, despite some reports, is in good shape.

Military planes are landing more regularly than they were last night, but there is no sense that the operation has begun in earnest.

People can now only hope and pray that help will arrive. Haitians can only depend on international help because the infrastructure here is decimated.

Time is not on the side of the Haitian people; help is needed and for many it has already arrived too late.




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