Friday 15 January 2010

Haiti relief effort

The United Nations says that member states have pledged £165 million for the relief effort in Haiti. Correspondents in the country, though, report that there’s little sign of help reaching the stricken areas. In one place, survivors seem to have built a pile of dead bodies as a protest.

The UN’s World Food Programme says two million people need feeding, but so far it has managed to reach just 4,000. Because of fuel shortages, Port-au-Prince’s small airport is clogged with stranded aircraft, the port is too badly damaged to use, and roads are blocked by debris.

If the estimate of around 50,000 dead is correct, this would make it the deadliest earthquake since May 2008, when up to 87,000 perished in Sichuan in south-west China. That one measured 7.8 compared with the 7 recorded in Haiti.

The other most devastating quake of the century so far was the 7.6 disaster that hit northern Pakistan in 2005, causing 73,000 deaths, while of course, it was a massive 9.2 undersea earthquake that caused the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, which accounted for around 230,000 people.

* Estonian readers of this blog may wish to know that my book A Disastrous History of the World is now available in their language as Maailma Katastroofide Ajalugu, published by Sinisukk.

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