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Burying the facts in Haiti

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Tagged: / Posted: 26 February 2010

Update on the posting below: better translation from the Dutch is available at

http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/haiti-quake-death-toll-well-under-1000... (Thanks to Michiel for this)


Today (Tuesday) I heard this story on Dutch radio. I am sure you will be
interested to read it. The author is Dutch journalist  Hans Jaap Melissen.
If he is right he is one of the rare kind of few critical journalists in
The Netherlands. I assume you can't read Dutch so I ran the text on
through Google Translator.

Kind regards,
Tom (from Holland).

Death toll in Haiti far less than 100,000

Haiti has about 52,000 dead buried after the earthquake of January 12.
There are still bodies under the rubble but the death toll will not exceed
the 100,000. This is significantly less than the 217,000 that the
government claims to have counted. And the estimated 300,000 who Sunday was
named by President René Préval. This according to research by the World

"Haiti has not died" there on t-shirts that you see more and more Haitians
walk. It seems the first qualification to this disaster, which now, after
weeks of research by the Worldwide, concluded that the death toll could be
much lower than the government would have us believe.

For a good understanding of number that you not only in Port-au-Prince are.
The epicenter of the quake lay in Leogane, half hour drive to the west.
Some 80 percent of buildings destroyed or heavily damaged. Soon the
government reported that in Leogane 20,000 to 30,000 people were killed.
But according to the local authorities have now recovered 3364 bodies, a
number that could rise to 5,000 in a community of about 200,000 souls.

Jacmel in the south are not 4000 (as first reported) only 400 deaths. In
Petit Goâve, Grand Goâve and Gressier together in 1367. In all these
places are carefully counted and this figure includes 20 bodies that remain
to be salvaged.

Tour of cemeteries
At the cemetery of Port-au-Prince about 18,000 bodies are introduced. A
tour of the other cemeteries, provides most bodies in 7000. Here is often
counted by managers, or a reliable estimate can be made.

Pretty soon after the earthquake the government began to seem a mass grave
outside the city to bring in Titanyen. But site visits and interviews with
stakeholders show that there are at most 20,000 bodies may lie. Indeed,
this is a very broad estimate, perhaps 7000 dead high.

Titanyen arrive in the most recent 30 to 50 bodies per day. These positions
outside the city has been the location of hospitals where unclaimed dead
are buried. A practice that still continues. With wide margins have now
recovered nearly 52,000 deaths.

Here and there, people have relatives buried or burned themselves, but
there are thousands rather than tens of thousands. The margin for the
number of Titanyen this is already broad enough. The government called in
soon after the quake, still working through the radio, to appear along the
road, in churches, cemeteries or to collect, transport to the mass graves.

Still under the rubble
The important question is obviously, how many are still under the rubble.
This affects thousands, that's for sure. But probably not to many tens of
thousands. It is precisely in places where large numbers died
simultaneously (in schools, hotels and supermarkets) has been extensively
cleared. But even if there are 30,000 bodies could be found under the
rubble, the death toll stands at "only" 82,000.

Then there is an additional safety margin can be built for bodies in the
sea have disappeared or been moved between rubble and taken to native
villages outside Port-au-Prince, something that hardly happened. Even if
there were a total of 10,000, does not exceed the death toll of 92,000. A
number that is built with very wide margins.

Wonderful scene
"That is not the death toll as high as first thought, will include as many
people were outside at 16:53 hours," explains Désir Maxerne out of the
municipality in the heavily affected Leogane. "People were inside when they
were often barely escape." The quake lasted 35 seconds. Many buildings
collapsed not once together, but only after, say 20 seconds, which gave
people time to run out. For many injured or hit the escape, but were not

Interviews with government officials about the death toll to deliver a
wonderful scene. Nobody seems responsible. Everyone refers to Minister of
Culture and Communication Lasseque. It takes several weeks to determine the
high death toll of over 200,000. It can not convincingly tell them how they
came. The UN says an own research into the numbers and is provisionally
based on the figures of the Haitian government.

Meanwhile the growing criticism of President Preval, he would not have
taken the lead enough and easy to foreigners as the Americans have given
much to say. The government refers repeatedly to the fact that the disaster
was so great, that choice has to be made. A choice which, according to
some, a lower death toll is not convenient.



Since the Haiti earthquake,

Added: 15 March 2010

Since the Haiti earthquake, many people have been sending donations and relief for the victims. No doubt that many people are still willing to take part in a good cause. Now, anyone who is looking for some last minute tax breaks can hear some good news: there is a proposed bill before Congress that allows you to deduct charitable donations for earthquake relief to either Haiti or Chile. That said, the donations for the tax deductions have to be made to specific qualified charities before the April 15th deadline – and those are some causes that deserve a few payday loans worth at least. Haiti is growing worse – beyond the million homeless and quarter of a million dead, there is a growing outbreak of cholera and typhoid fever, diseases we cured over a century ago.

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