New quake jolts Haitians

January 20, 2010 12:00 am

, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 20 – A powerful new earthquake shook Haiti on Wednesday jolting celebrations for miracle survivors ranging from a three week old baby to an elderly woman who were hauled out after seven days under the rubble.

Residents poured onto the streets fearing a repeat of the January 12 quake said to have killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. The US Geological Survey estimated the new tremor at magnitude 6.1.

The epicentre was west of Port-au-Prince, which was razed by last week\’s devastating 7.0 quake. Witnesses reported a low vibration and then a thunderous rumbling but there was no immediate sign of significant new damage.

There have been a series of big aftershocks since January 12 but rescuers have kept up their search and have been elated by their success in finding survivors who defied the quake\’s deadly odds.

Hoteline Losana, 25, was found in the wreckage of a supermarket late Tuesday only hours after Anna Zizi, who is about 70, sang as she was carried out of the ruins of Port-au-Prince cathedral. A three week old baby girl was dug out of rubble in the city of Jacmel.

Losana was said to be "conscious and in good form" by Thiery Cerdan of the French group Rescuers Without Borders, which carried out the nine hour operation with Haitian firemen and American experts.

She had been in an apartment over a supermarket when the quake struck on January 12. Rescuers said she had no food or water, could barely move, and owed her survival to the position in which she was stuck.

"We pulled someone out seven days after an earthquake, that is quite extraordinary," said Bruno Besson, another member of the French team.

Hours earlier, Mexican firefighters rescued Zizi from under the ruins of the Roman Catholic cathedral.

"It seems rescuers were communicating with her and managing to get water to her through a tube. She was singing when she emerged," said Sarah Wilson, of British charity Christian Aid.

Some of the rescuers were so overcome that they started crying.

Baby Elisabeth was found alive in a house in Jacmel in southern Haiti, again after surviving for a week without food, French radio reported on Wednesday.

French rescuers found the 23-day-old girl in a hollow beneath the ruins after spending five hours trying to get through to her, France Inter station said, adding she was mainly unhurt and had been taken to an American field hospital.

The United Nations said that 121 people had now been rescued by international teams in the past week and that there were still hopes of finding more.

But Major General Daniel Allyn, deputy commander of the military operation in Haiti, said US forces would soon switch the focus of the operation to recovering bodies rather than looking for survivors.

The Haitian government gave a latest toll of 75,000 dead, with another 250,000 injured and more than a million left homeless.

US troops fanned out across the ruined capital, where the pace of the relief operation has heightened street tensions.

Camped out under makeshift tents among the rubble, survivors faced a desperate hunt for food and water. For many looting is the only way.

"Look, when you are hungry and poor, nobody helps, you have to steal," a defiant young man named Vincent said, as people plunged into the ruins of a flattened supermarket.

On Tuesday, US paratroopers secured the ruined presidential palace, which is now surrounded by a squalid refugee camp. About 100 marched to Port-au-Prince\’s general hospital, which is swamped with injured.

US Marines also landed southwest of Port-au-Prince to link up with UN peacekeepers before more troops and equipment arrives.

State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said there were 12,000 troops in or around Haiti, with about 2,200 Marines and sailors also expected to take part in the relief operation.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to send 3,500 extra UN troops and police to Haiti to help maintain order and protect aid convoys.

Relatives told AFP that Haitian police killed a 15-year-old girl, Fabienne Cherisma, while firing warning shots over looters in the capital.

Some witnesses in the angry crowd, including the girl\’s father, said a policeman aimed deliberately at the girl, while others spoke of a warning shot that went astray.

The US deputy military commander, Allyn, said there were now around 200 daily flights into the capital\’s damaged airport, and that two airstrips, in the coastal city of Jacmel and in San Isidro in neighbouring Dominican Republic, would be in use by Thursday.

In a huge global effort, more than 1.2 billion dollars has been pledged in aid funding for Haiti, according to UN data.

International efforts are also focusing on rebuilding the country, with a major donor conference set for Monday in Montreal.


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