Foreign aid reaches rural areas of Haiti, as officials fear that many are still buried in the rubble.

A trickle of foreign aid began pouring into more rural areas of southwestern Haiti on Thursday, arriving five days after a powerful earthquake killed more than 2,000 and washed away tens of thousands of buildings in rubble.

Hundreds of people lined up to receive supplies from the UN World Food Program at a camp in the rural town of Camp-Perrin for people displaced by Saturday’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The official death toll stood at 2,189, but it was expected to rise.

A landslide caused by two nights of heavy rain earlier this week had partially blocked the main road leading into the area. Any more rain could make it impassable, locals said. People slept in a field under the trees.

“No one is coming to help us,” said Montette Joseph, a 33-year-old woman with four children who had traveled two hours in a van to get to the distribution site. The price of small bags of drinking water had tripled since the earthquake, he lamented.

“I am looking for help to be able to rebuild my house and take care of my children. We are experiencing a tragedy ”.

Many Haitians have complained about the slow arrival of aid, while the new tremors increase anxiety.

In the coastal town of Les Cayes, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, residents were shaken from their beds by a new aftershock overnight.

There were no immediate reports of damage, a police officer said. Families slept on mattresses on city streets, nervous about the state of the buildings.

Haiti is the poorest country in America and is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people.

Foreign nations have increased aid deliveries. The United States dispatched the warship USS Arlington on Thursday to provide humanitarian assistance as the US Coast Guard transported the wounded from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince. A flight was carrying a newborn baby along with his mother and father, a Reuters photographer witnessed.

France also sent a humanitarian cargo ship, a helicopter and 25 soldiers, said Florence Parly, minister of the French Armed Forces.

The latest disaster occurred just weeks after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, plunging the nation of 11 million people deeper into a political crisis that has worsened its economic woes.

Can Haiti avoid the hostility, the ‘double dealing’ that hampered relief efforts after the 2010 earthquake?

Counting the dead

The national civil protection agency said Wednesday night that 12,200 people were injured in the earthquake.

But local officials are still counting the dead.

In the town of Cavaillon, near Les Cayes, officials huddled over a piece of paper where they recorded the number of damaged houses, schools and churches in each of the surrounding villages, along with the number of dead and missing.

“We think there are still bodies in the ruins because we can smell them under the rubble,” said Jean Mary Naissant, one of Cavaillon’s officials.

By counts in Cavaillon and the small towns that surround it, there were 53 dead and more than 2,700 injured in the area. But there were still 21 people missing six days after the earthquake, local officials said.

Residents held a protest Monday to demand more help excavating the collapsed buildings, Naissant said, but government aid had not yet arrived from the capital, Port-au-Prince, some 180 kilometers (110 miles) to the east.

A town market and nearby hotel were packed with people when the earthquake struck on Saturday morning, reducing the area to a large pile of broken concrete and twisted iron rods.

Residents had managed to recover two bodies from the site, said Jimmy Amazan, another local official, but still more were believed to be buried under the rubble.

‘Our hearts are tearing apart’

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said late Wednesday that the entire country was devastated physically and mentally.

“Our hearts are tearing; some of our compatriots are still under the rubble, ”he said, calling for the troubled nation to unite in a time of crisis. “The days ahead will be difficult and often painful.”

In Boileau, a farming town about a 20-minute drive from Cavaillon, residents said officials had not yet arrived to document the victims or destroyed buildings, leaving them wondering if the damage there was part of the official record.

Renette Petithomme, a police officer, was standing on the lawn outside her partially collapsed house with her young daughter.

She was worried about her father. He had gone to Port-au-Prince earlier that day to seek medical attention for a head injury suffered when the walls of the house collapsed, but the public bus broke down on the way.

“Since the earthquake, he has been losing his senses, has trouble talking and walking,” he said, adding that the family decided to send him to the capital for treatment after learning that all nearby hospitals were full.

(REUTERS)

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