Page last updated at 21:55 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Haiti earthquake appeal hits more than 2m in 36 hours


The DEC appeal for victims of the earthquake in Haiti

Britons have donated more than £2m to an appeal to help earthquake-stricken Haiti in the space of 36 hours.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which has broadcast appeals on TV and radio, said it was delighted and Gordon Brown called it "extraordinary".

UK rescue workers are among those trying to find survivors. So far 30 Britons have been found safe and well, but one UK woman is still missing.

A two-year-old girl was rescued from a collapsed building by UK firefighters.

The child was trapped under piles of rubble in the capital Port-au-Prince and was rescued on the first full day of deployment for the 64-strong team.

Mike Thomas, chief officer of the fire and rescue team, said finding the girl had been "a real boost".

Meanwhile, Haitians in the UK are awaiting news of loved ones.

Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake has left as many as 45,000-50,000 people dead.


The aid operation is being hampered by poor infrastructure - the small airport is struggling to deal with the number of flights and the roads and port have been badly damaged.

The Foreign Office is checking on Britons and will start repatriations from the Caribbean island, but concern is growing for Ann Barnes, a personal assistant to the UN police commissioner in Haiti.

Ann Barnes, (centre) 59, originally from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, standing with unidentified friends.
Ann Barnes, 59, is originally from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

The 59-year-old, originally from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, has been unaccounted for since the UN headquarters collapsed on Tuesday.

Ms Barnes's sister Irene Marquet said the family feared the worst.

"There's been absolutely no trace, which is horrendous," she said.

"One wants to remain hopeful but it gets more and more difficult as time goes on."

The former British Airways stewardess has worked for the UN for more than 20 years and has been in Haiti for about two years.

The UK ambassador to the Dominican Republic and other consular staff have gone to neighbouring Haiti.

A British search and rescue team - made up of 71 people, mostly from the fire services, and including two search dogs - flew to the region on Thursday.

Forty of them are working alongside Chinese rescuers in the Carrefour district on the edge of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The Department for International Development said they had UN protection.

'Keep giving'

Another group was searching a ruined church in the city centre where a child was thought to be trapped.

The DEC, an umbrella organisation that co-ordinates responses to major disasters overseas, thanked the British public for their contribution to its quake appeal so far.

David Loyn
David Loyn, BBC correspondent, with a rescue team in Haiti

Food, water, medical supplies and shelter are needed on a huge scale for several months to come.

Rescue teams from a dozen countries are doing what they can in the capital, which was the epicentre of the earthquake. A Spanish team that arrived on Thursday morning had pulled out five people by nightfall including a two-year-old boy.

Although the team did not have any of their heavy equipment, which is still stuck in the gridlock at the airport, they dug with simple tools.

Annika Coll, the head of the team, said that "goosepimples went up on my arm" when the boy answered when she called out. He was unharmed after 50 hours without food or water.

The rescue teams know that there could be many more people like that under the rubble and are frustrated by being unable to get out to work.

There are also security concerns. Some 9,000 UN military and police personnel have been trying to keep order, and all rescue teams have had armed guards.

But it appealed for more financial aid in a BBC One TV appeal presented by Kirsty Young.

She said the small Caribbean nation had suffered devastation "beyond measure" and added: "Aid agencies are worried if they don't deal with problems like sanitation immediately, disease will break out and many more people will die."

Mariella Frostrup also presented an appeal on BBC Radio 4.

The Queen donated an undisclosed amount to the DEC and the Prince of Wales gave a private sum to a Red Cross fund.

DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said: "Efforts on the ground have been hampered by a lack of power and communications problems after the devastating quake but aid is starting to get through and DEC members are working hard in the field.

"It is vitally important that people continue to donate."

The £2m figure for online giving was hit at around 0800 GMT on Friday, and donations by other means are not included.

Money donated to the DEC - which brings together 13 major British-based charities - is being spent on search and rescue, medical care, food, clean water, temporary shelter and clothes.

The prime minister, who visited DEC staff at their north London headquarters on Friday, reassured the public their money would get through.

Shelane Chapman, from Downham in Kent, is one of the 1,000-strong Haitian community in the UK. She has no idea what has happened to her family.

She heard rumours that her mother's house collapsed in the earthquake, killing her six-year-old cousin, but has been unable to verify the news.

Sanitation equipment on its way to Haiti

Mrs Chapman said: "We're sick with worry because we can't get through at all. We keep redialling my mother's mobile number but it just won't work. If the house has gone, where could she be? Where could they all be?"

Judith Craig of United Haitians in the UK, says the charity has seen its membership jump since the earthquake hit.

She attributes the increase to people wanting to find out more and seek solidarity with others.

The Red Cross has set up a website to help people abroad to try to contact their relatives. A similar site has been created by two Haitians in the US.

A Spanish rescuer carries a two-year-old boy  after he was rescued from a home that collapsed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The Disasters Emergency Committee is co-ordinating an appeal to help the people of Haiti
There are 13 charities involved including the British Red Cross, Islamic Relief and World Vision
Donate via the DEC website or by telephoning 0370 60 60 900

Ian Bray, from Oxfam, said 10 tonnes of aid were being flown out on a British Airways flight to the neighbouring Dominican Republic on Friday night.

He said it was mainly water and sanitation equipment.

"There was also plastic sheeting," he said. "And sadly - we very rarely send this - there were body bags as well."

Muslim Aid, which launched a £250,000 aid campaign and donated £75,000, said its teams were installing purification units to provide clean drinking water and setting up a mobile field hospital.

It also made provisions for emergency shelter and food aid.

British Airways said it had a Boeing 747 standing by to fly to Haiti with supplies on Saturday, crewed by volunteer BA pilots and cabin crew.

Virgin Atlantic said it was flying supplies, along with key medical personnel, aid agency workers and rescue teams to the region.

The quake, Haiti's worst in two centuries, has flattened whole areas in the country's capital.

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