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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Search ends for survivors of Haiti supermarket collapse

Haiti hopes for job-rich recovery
Carrefour Feuille, Haiti (AFP) Feb 10, 2010 - Haiti's markets are jam-packed, its roads are a congested mess of smoke-belching trucks and its stores have customers lining up into the parking lot. But the economy is in tatters. Port-au-Prince's central commercial area is a scree-filled wasteland and the central market which was the hub of commerce in the capital is wrecked. With so many factories, offices and government buildings destroyed or unusable, many Haitians simply cannot return to work. For Paul Farmer, a doctor and now deputy UN envoy for Haiti, there is only one thing that will get the country on its feet: "It is about jobs, jobs, jobs," he told AFP on recent visit to the country. As in the United States, where near double-digit unemployment has prompted massive spending to fuel job growth, foreign donors hope an influx of cash can spur job growth in Haiti. The country has no shortage of shovel-ready projects.

In Carrefour Feuille, a town near the capital, 25-year-old Jean Jonas is one of five blue-shirted workers using long-handled shovels to throw rubble high above their heads and the belly of a Mack truck. The debris once formed half of the triangular facade of the Saint Francis Adventist church, but is now just another pile of ash-gray rubble blocking Carrefour's main thoroughfare as far as the eye can see. Jonas is paid 180 gourdes (around four and a half dollars) for six hours work each day, six days a week. It is hard, painstaking work under the blistering sun, but, according to Jonas it is much-needed. He did not have work before and has to feed his family. "Its great" he said simply, the sweat dripping off his face." But it will not last. His employer is, in theory, the local municipality. But in truth he is a United Nations employee, taken on as part of a job creation program dubbed cash-for-jobs. Workers are only allowed to work for 28 days before making way for someone else. The UN hopes the program can eventually employ 200,000 people if funding comes through. For the moment 35,000 people have been contracted. But even with a fraction of the population involved, Adam Rogers, a spokesman for the UN Development Programme, said organization has been difficult. Workers are being paid in cash, because many have lost the identification papers necessary to access a bank account or to claim pay by money transfer. Amid the gloom, Haiti's economy has taken some baby steps forward since the earthquake.

The port is operating at near capacity -- well above pre-quake levels, and foreign-run assembly-line factories are operating at 80 percent, according to the UN Development Program. Outside cellphone stores people wait in long lines to buy telephone cards now that the network is back up and running. And for some there is profit to be had amid the disaster. In the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince -- where dozens of homeless camps have grown plank-by-plank and sheet-by-sheet since the quake -- Vesta Didier, a stern patriarch and local entrepreneur, spotted an opportunity for profit. She stands by the side of the road barking orders at a group of men unloading a dump truck full of long, slender tree trunks. If Didier has her way, they will soon form the skeleton of yet another encampment for Haiti's destitute. She sells the timber poles at 300 gourdes a dozen (around eight dollars), an outrageous mark-up, according to one passerby. It is a steep price for most Haitians even before the earthquake. But she seems to have some buyers among those frantic for a place to put their family. With too few jobs to go round, other businesses may not be so lucky.
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Feb 10, 2010
Rescue workers abandoned the search for survivors at a Haitian supermarket that collapsed with several people thought to be inside Tuesday.

After almost six hours of searching, rescue teams using ultra-sensitive listening equipment and specialized cameras said they saw no signs of life, and began to leave the site, which partially collapsed in last month's quake.

They earlier sawed away at debris under the glare of flood lights, trying to find an estimated five to eight people thought to be in the Caribbean Market, at various points asking for silence so they could listen for victims.

The latest collapse occurred as a private contractor was recovering the bodies of those killed in last month's quake -- the victims of which still lay nearby covered in white sheets.

"There were looters inside the building," site supervisor Meir Vaknin told AFP. "I was trying to get rid of them and when the building fell there were some of them inside."

He estimated five to eight people had been inside, but the actual number was unknown.

A Mexican rescue worker, Carlos Mendez, said earlier said they had detected two people, and were trying to determine if they were alive.

The five-story building had been popular with well-off Haitians and was the capital's largest supermarket.

It was badly damaged in the devastating January 12 earthquake that killed around 212,000 people, but remained partly standing.

Vaknin said the collapse occurred Tuesday as he was working at the site with an excavator to remove bodies still there from the quake.

A large excavator could be seen collapsed inside a hole in the ground, which rescuers said was about two stories deep.

"I was sitting in the excavator when it fell in," he said. "I'm so lucky to be alive."

He said no one from his crew was hurt.

At least two dozen rescue workers had rushed to the scene from the nearby Hotel Montana, where painstaking efforts are still underway to recover bodies of many foreigners though to have perished there.

earlier related report
Damaged Haiti supermarket collapses with people inside
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Feb 9, 2010 - A damaged Haitian supermarket collapsed Tuesday with several people inside and rescue teams rushed to save them as the devastating January 12 quake wreaked more havoc nearly a month after it struck.

Rescue workers sawed away at debris under the glare of flood lights, trying to find an estimated five to eight people who were in the Caribbean Market when it collapsed, at one point asking for silence so they could listen for victims.

The search got underway as bodies retrieved from the site before the collapse -- those killed in the quake last month -- lay nearby covered in white sheets and awful smells hung in the air.

"There were looters inside the building," site supervisor Meir Vaknin told AFP. "I was trying to get rid of them and when the building fell there were some of them inside."

He estimated five to eight people had been inside and said at least one was spotted alive after the collapse.

A Mexican rescue worker, Carlos Mendez, said they had found two people so far. Asked if they were alive, he said, "This is what we are going to find out."

The five-story building had been popular with well-off Haitians and was the capital's largest supermarket.

It was badly damaged in the devastating January 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, but remained partly standing.

Vaknin said the collapse occurred Tuesday as he was working at the site with an excavator to remove bodies still there from the quake. A large excavator could be seen inside a hole in the ground.

"I was sitting in the excavator when it fell in," he said. "I'm so lucky to be alive."

He said no one from his crew was hurt.

At least two dozen rescue workers were at the scene, with US military and UN police sealing off the area.

Rescue workers were using cutting tools to try to reach people. Sparks flew as they cut with a saw then pulled away a tangled ball of metal.

The collapse came after the already stumbling relief effort was dealt a potential new blow earlier in the day when the WHO stopped providing free drugs to private clinics and NGOs after reports patients were being charged.

This followed distressing scenes of hungry survivors rubbing their bellies and shouting desperately on Monday after the UN suspended food supplies to some 10,000 quake survivors in the capital when fake coupons were discovered.

A WHO spokeswoman said there would be a review after three months and stressed that the new rules would allow the UN's health agency to keep a closer watch over its drug stocks.

Meanwhile, doctors treating a frail Haitian man said they believed he survived 27 days buried in rubble after the quake, but there was no explanation of how.

The rescued man, named as Evans Monsigrace, told doctors at a University of Miami field hospital in the capital that he had been buried by the quake while cooking rice.

"Amazingly he got out after 27 days. It's amazing and we are proud to have him here," said doctor Dushyantha Jayaweera, the chief medical officer at the center.

It was not immediately possible to verify Monsigrace's claim and there was no explanation for how he survived so long if he was trapped under the rubble without water.

The emaciated survivor was brought into the hospital on Monday and treated for dehydration by emergency doctors, Jayaweera said.

According to the man's mother, he was discovered by people clearing debris who then alerted Monsigrace's brothers.

Some 135 people are known to have been saved from the rubble by international rescue teams since the quake.

The last person rescued in Haiti was a 16-year-old girl pulled out almost two weeks ago.

Angelina Jolie injected star power into the relief work, touring the refuge caring for the children at the center of an American kidnap case.

The center is caring for 33 children who 10 Americans have been charged with kidnapping after they attempted to take them across the Dominican border in a bus.

Haitians whose children wound up with the Americans told the judge in the case Tuesday they gave the missionaries permission through a Haitian pastor to take them, the Americans' lawyer said.

One man, who did not want to give his name, said before entering the hearing that he had handed his 15-year-old son over because the boy had "fractured his foot in the earthquake" and needed treatment.

The Americans were arrested on the border with the Dominican Republic on January 29 as they traveled with the busload of children and were charged last week with kidnapping and conspiracy.

They have claimed they had no ill-intent in taking children they thought were orphans.



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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Haiti aid effort hit by fake coupon scam
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Feb 8, 2010
The struggling aid effort in Haiti was hit by another setback Monday as the UN halted deliveries to some 10,000 quake survivors after discovering that fake coupons were in operation. An agitated crowd of around 100 people continued to wait well into the afternoon at the drop-off site close to the town hall in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville as others clamored to get tickets valid fo ... read more







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