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In Haiti, the Sights and Sounds of a Sudden Disaster

January 15, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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A look at some of the sights and sounds of the massive earthquake that pummeled Haiti Tuesday and victims' desperate efforts to survive.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally tonight, we return to Haiti.

As the weekend begins, there is still an enormous need for humanitarian aid to reach people who are crowding parts of Port-au-Prince and searching for food, water, medical supplies, and gasoline. A country that is no stranger to adversity is closing out a week dominated by the sights and sounds of disaster.

Again, some of these images may be disturbing.

WOMAN: The world is coming to an end!

ANSEL HERZ, freelance journalist: This is panic in streets of Haiti’s Jacquet neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake on Tuesday afternoon.

MAN: I hear screaming outside and I hear sirens from down the hill.

ANSEL HERZ: People are basically in the streets trying to stay away from buildings and walls and things that could collapse. They’re — they’re trying to survive at this point. There’s not much in the way of rescue efforts, really nothing in the way of official rescue efforts that I have seen in the streets. I think they’re sort of in a state of shock.

JOHN HOLMES, undersecretary-general, United Nations: The devastation caused by the earthquake is extremely widespread. We believe and fear that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of victims still under rubble in houses and buildings of various kinds. The medical infrastructure, such as it is, in Port-au-Prince has been clearly overwhelmed by the number of victims.

IAN RODGERS, senior emergency adviser, Save the Children: There is no power. It’s very, very dark. Earlier in the evening, before it got too dark, you were hearing a lot of people obviously breathing and a lot of distress going on, looking for their missing relatives. We are really quite concerned about several of the children and — and families at the moment and what’s going to happen.

CARRIE KAHN, NPR: It is just devastating to tour the city and see the destruction. It is so widespread. I’m looking right now off of a hillside, and there are houses crushed on — one on top of the other on top of the other. And then there is a house leaning just practically at a 45-degree angle. It’s just devastating.

Everywhere we went along the streets, there were dead bodies. People were desperately trying to cover them with anything they could, whether it was cardboard they found in the street, a sheet, if they had it. We saw people trying to still take people out of the rubble. They have very rudimentary tools.

What you see is people on the move, large groups of people on the move. They can’t get out of Port-au-Prince. I don’t know. There — there is no transportation. There is no gas. So, people are trying to find shelter. They are desperately trying to find some water. They are trying to find some food. They are trying to find health, anything they can.

DR. HELENE GAYLE, president & ceo, CARE USA: What’s needed right now is, in fact, money, resources, so that we can continue to bring in the kinds of supplies, bring in the kinds of support that’s necessary.

BILL CLINTON, former president, United States: We have got bodies and no refrigeration capacity. Haitians bury their dead. I — I hope that we can get some refrigeration ships and some other capacity there with generators that will operate, so we can preserve as many people who have been killed for their loved ones as possible.

BOB POFF, Salvation Army: I’m seeing people who are very, very strong, who are very courageous. I’m seeing them fight against all the things that have happened to them with this devastation.

People are very anxious. They need to know if they’re going to have food and water in the coming hours. But I see people who are also quite strong and quite willing to do what it takes to make a difference.

TONY WINTON, Associated Press: There are still bodies lying in streets. We saw a makeshift grave operation on a hillside in Port-au-Prince, where people were burying people in shallow graves, perhaps just a — feet deep. Meanwhile, people are still living out in the open under tent cities that have popped up all over the town, fearful of getting inside.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, secretary of state, U.S.: It was so ironic that, Monday night on PBS, there was a long story about how Haiti was on the way back. And it was such a hopeful story. And, you know, the next day, you know, this happens.

RENE PREVAL, president, Haiti: I am very sad, because a lot of people died, a lot of people are suffering. I am very sad because my country is in great difficulty. But I am very happy also to see how the world is with us, is helping us.