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Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Haiti quake: Aid workers' diaries Thursday 14 January

Supplies carried out of plane
Supplies arrive in Port-au-Prince. Photo: Tony Cece

Rescue teams and supplies are slowly starting to get to some people in Haiti's capital.

British aid workers are among those involved with helping victims of Tuesday's earthquake. The following people are sharing their diaries with us:

Emerson Tan, MapAction
David Darg, Operation Blessing
Carwyn Hill, Haiti Hospital Appeal
Martin Harrison, HCJB Global Hands
Stuart Coles, Plan International

EMERSON TAN

I'm part of a team of volunteer aid workers stuck at Gatwick airport trying to get to Haiti. It seems the weather here is adding to the problems.

There are four of us from my group, MapAction, and then over 70 rescue specialists. The sniffer dogs are here as well.

A lot of buildings are badly constructed, though the shacks are where more people are likely to survive

We provide mapping and information for all the aid agencies. We go in to a disaster area and make assessments on where and what aid is needed.

We work out how much damage has been done and where survivors might be. We can build a picture for everyone else. Other agencies can then allocate resources.

Haiti is extremely poor and a lot of its buildings are badly constructed. Strangely though, the shacks are where more people are likely to survive. The building materials are lightweight and survivors can get out more easily.

At the moment, the rescue efforts will be localised with friends, neighbours and family trying to get to survivors. It takes time to mobilise heavy equipment and so it will take a bit longer before we see the larger scale operation get going.

I feel frustrated that we're stuck here because of the snow but there's not a lot I can do about it. I'm actually looking forward to the long flight because it will be my last chance to get a decent amount of sleep for what may be over a week once I land.

I feel some excitement and some trepidation but I feel very prepared. It will be traumatic.

DAVID DARG

I was in Haiti less than a month ago working with our Port-au-Prince based project coordinator, Eric Lotz. Operation Blessing had been asked by President Clinton's office of the UN envoy to carry out an assessment of the sewage system at the national hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Operation Blessing workers at the hospital. Picture: Eric Lotz
Operation Blessing workers at the hospital in Port-au-Prince. Picture: Eric Lotz

On 12 January, we began to pump out the sewage so we could get to the broken pump.

Eric and I exchanged several messages over our Blackberrys over the course of the morning. At 1149 he sent through a photograph he took with his phone of the clean up crew shovelling the sewage. Then at 1450 Eric sent another message about the work he was doing. That was the last message I received from Eric that day.

The next message I received about Haiti was from the US Geological survey at 1712. I glanced at the email and was shocked at the subject line: "2010-01-12 21:53:09 (Mw 7.0) Haiti region". I was even more concerned that the message said the earthquake's epicentre was Port-au-Prince.

Earthquake damage. Picture: Eric Lotz
Earthquake damage. Picture: Eric Lotz

I immediately tried to call Eric but nothing happened. One early report was that a hospital had collapsed in Port-au-Prince. Knowing that Eric was at the hospital I was extremely concerned. I tried calling him many times but just could not get through.

After 24 hours we finally received word that Eric was alive. He had fled from the crumbling hospital and then walked eight miles through death and destruction to get home. His family are all alive but his home was destroyed.

I'm currently in Miami, in the morning I am flying into the Dominican Republic and from there will join colleagues for the long drive to Port-au-Prince. Once I arrive I will be coordinating relief efforts, efforts which are likely to last for a very long time.



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