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Many Americans Among Dead, Missing in Haiti Quake

January 15, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Up to 50,000 Americans live in Haiti, and six are now confirmed dead with many more missing. Bill Neely of ITN has more on how U.S. citizens have been affected.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now more on the Americans caught in the Haitian catastrophe. Up to 50,000 U.S. citizens live in Haiti. So far, six are confirmed dead and many more are missing.

Bill Neely of Independent Television News has more. And, again, some of the scenes are visually graphic.

BILL NEELY: They survived Haiti’s deadliest quake. At first light, they give thanks and pray. “God help us,” they chant. “Believe in the power of God.”

But it was the power of the earth that swept away their homes and their families. And three days on, that minute of terror is still reverberating deep underground.

We followed a French rescue team down into the bowels of a luxury hotel, through the concrete, under the beams, and into a tiny cavity, where a man is still alive.

MAN: Clinton, give me your hand.

MAN: Yes.

MAN: Painkiller.

MAN: Clinton?

MAN: Yes. I’m here.

MAN: You want painkiller?

MAN: Yes.

BILL NEELY: Clinton from New York is trapped by a concrete beam across his legs. The rescue workers have hooked him up to drips and believe they can get him out. They pulled four people out yesterday.

Near him, a second American man, and, in a room beyond, an American woman, working next to them, American rescuers, and then a moment that stuns everyone. They help out a Haitian hotel waiter. But he hardly needs help. He hasn’t a scratch. He told me he never thought he would die. He lived because he was trapped in a lift.

MARK STONE, Fairfax County Task Force: It kept him from getting crushed, probably kept him from getting debris falling on them. So, it’s probably a safe bet that that elevator car served as a protection for them.

BILL NEELY: They are still hearing voices in the rubble. It’s really surprising that, after three days, anyone is still alive in this crush. This building really is, in truth, a mass grave, with more than 100 bodies trapped in the debris.

Soon, slowly and carefully, the American team bring out a second man. Eyes open, scanning his rescuers, he is badly injured. Within minutes, the shock has rendered him unconscious, but they think he will make it.

So many thousands have not. Like litter, they lie everywhere. At the police station and jail, the officers peer in, looking for colleagues, their men crushed with the inmates they were guarding. This earthquake didn’t discriminate prisoner and guard, rich and poor. It was the great leveler. And it leveled this city.

Outside a school that was three stories high, the injured parents and grandparents of the children wait. But, here, tragedy was averted. The school closed 20 minutes before the quake struck.

Well, this is a scene of utter horror. Behind this wall, there are bodies piled three deep. There are probably scenes like this all over Haiti. We — we don’t know because it is very difficult to get to some of the outlying areas. But, clearly, this death toll looks like being in the tens of thousands. It is the kind of horror Haiti has never known.