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Haiti earthquake: reaching victims outside the capital

19-01-2010 Operational Update

For the first time, the ICRC has managed to reach victims of last Tuesday's earthquake in areas outside Port-au-Prince. It has been working with the local health authorities to set up first-aid posts in nearby towns and cities.

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  Looking for a family member?  

©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00414 
The ICRC distributes tarpaulins and buckets to victims of the earthquake. 
©Reuters/T. Makeyeva 
People made homeless by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. 
  ©Reuters/T. Makeyeva    
  A hospital in Port-au-Prince    

ICRC staff have managed to reach the city of Léogane, 60 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince, for the first time. " Léogane was severely damaged by last Tuesday's earthquake and the people there urgently need assistance, " said Philippe David, the ICRC's health coordinator in Haiti. " We are setting up first-aid posts in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake and plan to step up our medical assistance in Léogane in the coming days. "

In addition, ICRC engineers assessed the damage sustained by the water tower that serves the entire population of Cité-Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince's biggest shantytowns. The tower is heavily damaged and will require extensive repairs. In the meantime, residents are collecting water directly from the base of the tower.

On Monday, the ICRC started to distribute essential household supplies in the Delmas neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. However, the distribution had to be interrupted owing to the tense atmosphere. " These tensions are understandable given the extremely difficult situation people who have lost everything find themselves in, " said Riccardo Conti, who manages ICRC operations in Haiti. " Despite the uneasy situation in Port-au-Prince, we intend to resume aid distributions in the coming days. " Meanwhile, the ICRC finished building another 10 latrines in Delmas and provided water for 7,500 people living in makeshift camps in three other areas of the capital.

 Restoring family links  

The ICRC and the Haitian National Red Cross Society are setting up an office in Port-au-Prince to help people renew con tact with their relatives following last Tuesday's earthquake. Located at Haitian Red Cross headquarters in Croix-de-Prez, the office will enable people to give and receive information about relatives. Local radio stations are expected to shortly begin informing the population about Red Cross activities aimed at restoring family links.

So far, more than 23,000 names have been registered on the ICRC website set up to help people who have lost contact with family members ( www.icrc.org/familylinks ). More than 1,500 of these postings are from people eager to let their loved ones know that they are safe and alive.

 Relief shipments  

An ICRC-chartered aircraft carrying 36 tonnes of water and sanitation equipment as well as medical items is expected to leave Geneva later today for the Dominican Republic. From there, the cargo will be taken by road to Port-au-Prince. A second plane carrying 2,500 family kits, containing such essential items as blankets, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, is due to leave Panama for the Dominican Republic in the coming days.

The ICRC's activities are carried out as part of the overall Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the crisis. For more information consult www.ifrc.org  

  For further information, please contact:
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Port-au-Prince, mobile: +41 79 251 9302, satellite tel: +88 165 146 6175
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2458 or +41 79 217 32 24  

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