World mobilises to provide Haiti aid

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Around three million people need emergency help in the wake of Haiti's devastating earthquake, the Red Cross said today.

Barack Obama vowed "unwavering support". The US President told reporters he had directed his administration to provide swift, coordinated help to save lives.



In the UK, the Prime Minister promised emergency aid for Haiti today after an earthquake there was thought to have cost the lives of thousands of people. Gordon Brown told the Commons: "Because of the devastating earthquake overnight, Haiti has moved to the centre of the world's thoughts and the world's compassion.



"The Government will respond with emergency aid in firefighters, emergency equipment and finance. And we'll give further support to help the people of Haiti recover from this devastating event."



The quake's epicentre was only 10 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince. That, together with Haiti's crumbling infrastructure, still makes it impossible to gauge how many people might be dead or wounded.

"There's probably three million people potentially affected," said a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, basing the estimate on Haiti's population of 10 million and previous experience in earthquake relief.

"Port-au-Prince has been massively impacted," he said. "There are many, many people trapped in the rubble."

The neighbouring Haitian cities of Carrefour and Jacmel may also be heavily damaged.

The organisation said Haiti's disaster relief teams were "completely overwhelmed."

The first airlifts to Haiti were concentrating on search and rescue efforts, setting up makeshift hospitals and delivering food.

The US, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, China, Mexico and Venezuela pledged immediate support in terms of personnel, cash and supplies.

One of the first teams expected to arrive in Haiti was 37 search and rescue specialists from Iceland, along with 10 tons of rescue equipment.

French rescue authorities said 65 rubble-clearing specialists and six sniffer dogs were leaving for Haiti, while Spain was rushing three planes with at least 100 tons of tents, blankets and cooking kits. Israel was sending an elite Army rescue unit of engineers and medics.

Some aid flights from Europe were delayed by heavy snow. A plane with 64 firefighters and rescue dogs was grounded temporarily at Gatwick airport.

Spain said it would provide £3 million, the Netherlands pledged £2 million, Germany, £1 million and China, £600,000.

UN officials were struggling to assess the scale of the disaster amid badly damaged communication networks and were working with aid agency Telecoms Sans Frontieres to get phone lines working again.

There was no electricity in the capital and roads were filled with rubble and debris.

Irish telecommunications company Digicel said it was donating 5 million dollars to aid agencies working in Haiti. The company - a major mobile phone operator in the Caribbean - also was sending specialists there to help repair the damaged phone network.

UN agencies and Red Cross societies were trying to send in teams and aid from their regional hub in Panama, while USAID was mobilising experts and two urban rescue units.

If aid cannot travel over the airport road to the Haitian capital it may be rerouted through the Dominican Republic, said the World Food Programme official. It planned to airlift 86 tons of high-energy biscuits from El Salvador, enough to feed 30,000 people for a week.

The Christian aid organisation World Vision, which has 400 staff in Haiti, said it would immediately distribute the hurricane relief supplies it had stored there.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project