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The Haitian Government's Initial Earthquake Response Frustrates Many In Haiti


Been overshadowed by tragic news elsewhere, but rescuers are pulling body after body from collapsed structures in southwestern Haiti. The Caribbean nation was hit by an earthquake over the weekend.


Images taken in the hardest-hit areas show homes and businesses reduced to nothing more than rubble. The streets are filled with debris and people, many of them too afraid to return to their homes. Jean Fanfan Vital is a 38-year-old business owner in Selon who tragically lost his young baby in the disaster.

JEAN FANFAN VITAL: (Through interpreter) My child is dead. My father was carrying him, and as they passed by the building, some debris fell down and landed on them. The child was so young, only 4 months. And maybe that's the only reason why he's dead. He was so young.

INSKEEP: His father survived and was treated at a local hospital. Haiti's civil protection agency says more than 1,900 people have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured. That is the figure as of Tuesday, and both numbers may well climb.

MARTÍNEZ: Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed office last month after the assassination of President Moise, vowed that his government would not repeat the same mistakes that were made after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people. But the government's initial response has frustrated some Haitians. Vital, who makes money selling auto parts, says he has no other option but to rebuild.

FANFAN VITAL: (Through interpreter) I wish the state would come here and bring heavy equipment to help remove the floor of the building that was damaged. All around this area you can find a lot of houses that have been damaged. It's not only my house. We need the state to come here.

INSKEEP: Think about the difficulty facing rescuers. You've got blocked roads. You've got COVID. You've got Tropical Storm Grace. And humanitarian organizations are just trying to assess the damage at this point. One bit of hopeful news is that the rain is expected to stop for the next couple of days. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.