United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry to send a police contingent to Haiti, to fight growing anarchy there. The plea comes as the streets of earthquake-ravaged Port Au-Prince have reportedly become battle zones between gangs and looting is rampant.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich and Police Chief Maj. Gen. Dudi Cohen decided to send 100 police officers to the Caribbean island in response to the U.N. request. The officers will join other police forces from different countries that are already on the scene in Haiti.
New Earthquake Rocks Island
Doctors at the IDF Field Hospital in Haiti raced to hang on to their equipment and stabilize their patients as a 6.1-magnitude aftershock rocked the island at about 6:00 a.m. local time Wednesday. The epicenter of the temblor was located 56 kilometers (36 miles) north of Port-au-Prince and about 6.2 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
OC IDF Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan visited the Israeli hospital and met with medical teams following the quake, including those staffing the special “neo-natal unit” set up in a quasi-premature baby maternity ward. Golan and IDF aid delegation commander Brig.-Gen. Shalom Ben-Aryeh also toured the general disaster area from the air in an IDF helicopter in order to assess what else is needed in terms of further Israeli aid. Golan and Israel's Ambassador to Haiti, Amos Radian, also met with the country's prime minister and toured the United Nations headquarters that was destroyed in the quake, as well as other areas.
Video - OC Home Front Command visits IDF Field Hospital in Haiti:
None of the members of the IDF delegation were injured in the new quake. Local residents were not as lucky, however, and authorities reported that there were fresh casualties among the population. Foreign media report that masses of people fled panicking into the streets for fear that the buildings, already weakened by the original 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the city eight days ago, would collapse around them.
A number of secondary earthquakes have been detected in the area since that first temblor, including two smaller tremors that hit Friday and Saturday, both about 4.5-magnitude.
The Twitter social networking site was frantic with activity once news of the aftershock hit the internet. “OMG… twitter head go in with the prayers today like never before!! GO IN!!” pleaded one tweet. “...traumatized…” wrote another. “How horrible!!!!” exclaimed a third.
At least 72,000 have already lost their lives in the disaster, with many more injured and countless still missing. The total death toll is estimated to be much higher; some officials have placed the number as high as 200,000. Time is rapidly running out for those who remain trapped under the rubble, as volunteers desperately search for victims who might still be alive.
Nevertheless, miraculous rescues are still taking place; an eight-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl were discovered alive by New York City firefighters and police officers amid the broken concrete of a two-story building. The children were immediately rushed to the IDF Field Hospital for emergency life-saving treatment.
Thus far, 383 people have received treatment in the IDF Field Hospital, among them dozens of children; seven babies were brought into the world, and 140 life-saving operations were carried out. As of midday Wednesday local time, 60 patients were being treated in different departments of the hospital. Approximately 43 rescue teams from around the world, comprised of 1,800 rescue personnel and 160 dogs, are actively operating throughout Haiti.
Google Using Geek Technology to Help
Internet software giant Google Earth has also been pitching in to assist with the relief effort by publishing an upgraded version of its mapping tools.
The search engine team partnered with GeoEye to post updated satellite imagery of the disaster area on Google Earth and on Google Maps, showing both the devastation and the current conditions on the ground.
“This data was made available for public consumption and also to assist relief efforts including those by UNOSAT (United Nations Institute for Training and Research Operational Satellite Applications Programme) and the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies,” explained Google in a statement posted late Tuesday night on its LatLong blog.
Earlier in the day, the team updated the Haiti Earthquake KML layer with additional information, noted Senior GIS Strategist Matt Manolides, “including more imagery from GeoEye, Digital Globe and NOAA.” Earthquake epicenters and other maps are also available, and, he added, “Aid groups can also download Map Maker data as well.”
Doctors: Badly Needed Supplies Diverted
The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders meanwhile complained Tuesday that a cargo plane carrying badly needed supplies was denied permission to land at Port-au-Prince’s only airport.
The plane, which contained 12 tons of medications, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was diverted to the nearby Dominican Republic after three attempts to land were rejected by U.S. Air Force traffic controllers.
The U.S. military explained that the airport’s control tower had been knocked out by the quake, and the single runway can only allow 100 aircraft a day. The runway has been badly overwhelmed with arrivals and departures; at least 30 nations have been trying to bring search-and-rescue teams and medical personnel into the area to help.
More Than One Supply Line Cut
The difficulty in getting supplies to the medical teams via the airport is only one of a number of problems that is apparent when viewing the geography from space. In a photograph snapped from a NASA satellite, one can see that the capital city is densely built, with little open space available.
The photograph was made available courtesy of NASA in cooperation with the International Space Fellowship, acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. Debris from collapsed buildings is piled up in the streets, making it even harder for supply trucks to get through. Moreover, the city’s only port, through which large cargo ships could potentially bring more aid to its desperate residents, has also been damaged, thus cutting off that means of supply as well.