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The Longest Now

Massive destruction across Haiti
Thursday January 14th 2010, 10:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tuesday’s major earthquake in Haiti has destroyed the heart of capital Port-au-Prince and its vicinity, including part of the presidential palace and many major hubs of international groups and embassies.  This sort of emergency was unexpected; there is no disaster relief system in place. Imagine Nature sacking a nation’s capital and you have something like the scene on the ground.  The President was interviewed on CNN yesterday at the airport, commenting on how he has no place to work (or sleep, but he said there was time enough to find a bed), and no communication network; and just needs a place to sit and communicate so he can help people.

Thousands of people are missing, including the head of the World Bank in the country and the head of the UN mission.  The estimated death toll is between 50,000 and 100,000.  Communications lines, airports, and other infrastructure have all failed.  Anderson Cooper yesterday reported that there is no air-traffic control for incoming pilots; rubble rescue teams are generally composed of groups of civilians working without tools.

The World Food Program is preparing a 6-month emergency food campaign, supplying ready-to-eat meals, first aid kits (various kinds) and satellite phones to the area.

Please donate to support the WFP’s work.

Haiti is already by far the most impoverished country in the Americas, with a normalized per capita GDP1 of $1300 in 2008 (Nicaragua is next, and twice as wealthy), slightly poorer than Chad.  Despite its intense proximity to wealther countries (it occupies the western 1/3 of the island of Hispanola; the eastern 2/3 are the Dominican Republic, with much richer farms and seven times its GDP) OLPC works with 13,000 students and teachers there, but so far our only word from them is that the country head of our program is alright.

1 – Purchasing power parity raises this to $1300 from a raw per capita GDP of $790.

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