. Earth Science News .

Still in ruins: Haiti marks two years after quake
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Jan 12, 2012

President Michel Martelly laid a wreath Tuesday at the mass grave north of the capital of victims of a catastrophic earthquake that killed a quarter-of-a-million people in the poorest country in the Americas.

Throughout the day Haitians flocked to churches to mark the second anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude quake.

The flattened presidential palace and Port-au-Prince's hollowed-out cathedral offered striking symbols of the failure of an international aid effort that never lived up to its promise, despite billions of pledged dollars.

By the ruins of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, whose roof and towers collapsed after the quake, Jean Wilbert, a 40-year-old cripple ekes out an existence in a makeshift camp with his mother.

"I've been here for the past two years," Wilbert told AFP, admitting he found it hard emotionally to move on from the disaster. "I cannot detach myself from this place where I lost my two legs," he said.

UN fact sheets highlighted the hundreds of thousands of people relocated from tent cities in 2011 and the 1.1 million children now receiving daily food aid, but the pace of reconstruction has been painfully slow.

That is partly explained by the cataclysmic scale of the January 12, 2010 disaster, which killed, injured or displaced one in six of the Caribbean nation's entire population, razing some 250,000 homes in the capital alone.

But Haiti was also already the economic basket case of the Western Hemisphere, a dysfunctional country often ruled by a corrupt elite while 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, most in stinking slums.

More than half-a-million people displaced by the 2010 quake subsist in 800 squalid tent camps around the capital, and the health authorities, propped up by an army of NGOs, are still battling a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 7,000 people since November 2010.

In this largely Roman Catholic country, places of worship were holding services throughout the day to remember the disaster, throwing open their doors to quake survivors, many still traumatized by the events of that day.

Government officers were shuttered along with schools and businesses.

At 4:53 pm local time (2153 GMT), the moment the earthquake struck, President Michel Martelly laid the wreath at the mass grave north of the capital where most of the dead lie entombed, dumped there in lorry-load after lorry-load in the days after the disaster.

Martelly vowed to press on with reconstruction: "For two years, we have mourned our dead, healed our wounds -- we must now rebuild."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to those who died -- including more than 100 UN personnel -- and called on international donors to keep up their "vital support" for the rebuilding two years after the disaster.

"Despite considerable achievements, including in the areas of rubble removal and the resettlement of displaced persons, many Haitians remain in need of international assistance," Ban said.

UN special envoy to Haiti Michaelle Jean said "murderous negligence" had contributed to the vast toll as she pointed to "an absence of laws and regulations to standardize construction works" that led to building collapses.

"It is irresponsible laissez-faire, generalized disorder set up as a system," she said.

Shocked in the immediate aftermath of one of the deadliest disasters of modern times, the international community promised billions of dollars of aid money to "build back better."

Decentralization -- away from the slum-infested, sprawling capital of three million -- was the buzzword in a plan to be implemented under the watchful eye of former US president Bill Clinton.

This grandiose vision now appears to have been a pipe-dream.

Less than half the $4.59 billion pledged has been received and disbursed, and the coffers of the aid agencies are also drying up.

More than 50 percent of the quake rubble has now been cleared, but little has been erected in its place.

Most of the hundreds of thousands of people who fled Port-au-Prince after the quake have since returned to the overcrowded capital, desperate for work and food in a country still lacking another effective pole to attract labor.

Martelly, a former carnival entertainer and pop singer, was sworn in as the new president in May, riding a populist wave and promising to bring the change that the country so badly needs.

But faced with a parliament dominated by his political opponents, it took him five months to even get a prime minister appointed.

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Still in ruins: Haiti marks two years after quake
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Jan 12, 2012
Haitians flocked to churches Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed a quarter-of-a-million people in the poorest country in the Americas. The flattened presidential palace and Port-au-Prince's hollowed-out cathedral offered striking symbols of the failure of an international aid effort that never lived up to its promise, despite billions of pl ... read more

Simulating firefighting operations on a PC

Japan disaster builds international bridges

Still in ruins: Haiti marks two years after quake

Still in ruins: Haiti marks two years after quake

Building the smallest magnetic data storage unit

Making Building Blocks For Chemical Industry From Wood While Boosting Production 40 Percent

Publishers slow library e-books

Lens makers focus on smartphone cameras

Carbon dioxide affecting fish brains: study

Why do dew drops do what they do on leaves?

Scientists Look to Microbes to Unlock Earth's Deep Secrets

Reuse of municipal wastewater has potential to augment future drinking water supplies

Russian ship to pump fuel to ice-bound Alaska port

Next Ice Age Delayed For Thousands Of Years Warn Scientists

'Dramatic' loss of harp seals amid warming: study

New species found in deep antarctic waters

Short, sharp shock treatment for E. coli

Diverse ecosystems are crucial climate change buffer

Conserving biodiversity could benefit the world's poor

Honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure

Strong quakes rattle remote Antarctica

World's most extreme deep-sea vents revealed

Death toll in Brazil floods, landslide rises to 33

Could Siberian volcanism have caused the Earth's largest extinction event?

S.African rangers kill poachers in Kruger park

S. Africa slams Security Council over Libya crisis

Somalia: rebels and regional powers in the conflict

Boko Haram and U.S. plans in Africa

How the brain computes 3-dimensional structure

We May Be Less Happy, But Our Language Isn't

Evolution is written all over your face

Fusion plasma research helps neurologists to hear above the noise


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement