Haiti earthquake deaths surpass 2,000 as tensions grow over slow pace of aid

The death toll from Haiti’s devastating earthquake has now surpassed 2,000, as anger grows over the slow place of aid in remote regions.

Thousands of homes and livelihoods were lost after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck last Saturday, with many saying they are unsure how to even start rebuilding.

The official death toll is now 2,189 and an estimated 332 people are still missing, as residents continue to search for bodies underneath the rubble in southern Haiti.

Many families have been forced to sleep outside in torrential rain after their homes were destroyed, with Prime Minister Ariel Henry issuing a warning for more storms during the hurricane season, which usually runs until the end of November.

“After the emergency phase, which we hope will only last a few weeks, we will need to start thinking about reconstruction,” Mr Henry said in a meeting with the Organisation of American States on Friday, as he appealed for neighbouring countries for support.

The US has sent a support package to Haiti, with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirming the USS Arlington naval vessel is on its way to the Caribbean country.

The vessel is carrying helicopters, a surgical team and a landing craft to assist in the relief effort.

Rural and hard to reach areas have experienced landslides, damage to the highways, and violence, further complicating travel between the capital Port-au-Prince and the southern part of the country.

In some parts, crops, livestock and access to drinking water were destroyed by the earthquake, and tensions boiled over on Friday when residents attacked aid trucks in several towns across the south.

“I have been here since yesterday, not able to do anything,” said 23-year-old Sophonie Numa, who waited outside an international aid distribution site in the small city of Camp-Perrin, located in the hard-hit southwestern Les Cayes region.

“I have other people waiting for me to come back with something,” he said.

Former President Michel Martelly visited a local hospital in Les Cayes, where a member of his staff left an envelope of cash that started a violent scramble.

People were also seen taking foam sleeping pads from trucks parked at a Red Cross compound in Les Cayes, as others stole food and tarpaulins.

Jean-Michel Saba, an official with the country’s civil protection agency, said police escorted the food truck away but did not say how much was taken.

Similar incidents took place in Vye Terre, near Les Cayes.

Aid workers on the ground said hospitals were worst hit, are incapacitated and there is a desperate need for medical equipment.

Manithe Simon, 68, lost her home in Marceline to the disaster but days before the earthquake Ms Simon and Wisner Desrosier had decided to marry after 44 years together.

“Our wedding was so beautiful, even though it was raining cats and dogs that day,” she said.

“But now we have lost everything.”

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