Haiti’s Crushing Quake

BY Larisa Epatko  January 15, 2010 at 6:43 PM EDT

Haiti’s earthquake was “a catastrophe of monumental proportions,” said Nick Birnback, spokesman for the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Caribbean nation was still mending from a series of major storms in 2008 and deep-seated political problems when the quake struck.

Many countries want to provide aid, but the sea port was demolished in the earthquake and the airport in Port-au-Prince is ill-equipped to handle such a high volume of supply aircraft, said Birnback.

“So as tends to happen in these emergency relief situations following a catastrophic event, there’s a bottleneck,” he said. “The trick is to coordinate the distribution of aid to make sure that it gets to where it needs to go as quickly as possible.”