Haiti quake relief -- a daunting task for world community

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After a 7.3-magnitude earthquake battered Haiti on Tuesday, the international community has exerted unremitting efforts to help relieve the impoverished Caribbean country, but a number of difficulties have hindered relief work.

Interrupted communication

According to a UN estimation, the quake has not only caused huge property damage to Haiti, but also paralyzed the country's administration and public security sectors.

Haiti's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive estimated on Sunday that around 100,000 people have died from the quake and that more than 90 percent of the nation's buildings were damaged.

A large number of governmental buildings, including the presidential office, were damaged or destroyed, while numerous governmental officials have been killed, injured or missing in the quake.

Moreover, the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince collapsed in the quake, killing both Hedi Annabi, the UN's special representative in Haiti, and his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa alongside dozens of UN staff members.

In the first hours after the quake, there were nobody directing the rescue work.

Telecommunication in the country, except for a few satellite phones, was totally cut in the first days after the quake. The whole country lost contacts with the outside world.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the relief work in Haiti was one of the most difficult ones the UN has ever launched in its history.

Paralyzed traffic

The international community has quickly mobilized to send aid and rescue teams to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.

However, the nearly collapsed transportation network hindered the distribution of relief supplies and urgently needed machines on the ground.

As a flux of assistance was pouring into Haiti, the only airport in the capital has overrun its limit in the past week.

According to Byrs, some 40 rescue teams have registered at the On-Site Operations Coordination Center (OSOCC) and more than 17 had started their mission in Haiti.

She added the OCHA has opened a special aerial route between the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo and the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to speed up the aid delivery.

But the paralyzed traffic made it difficult to distribute relief supplies and a large amount of aid piled up at the border areas of the country.

Meanwhile, most rescuers have been scouring survivors without diggers or other heavy machinery since it's difficult to deploy heavy rescue equipment to the rescue scene via the rubble-filled roads.

More than 70 lives have been saved as international rescue teams have completed about 60 percent of the search and rescue work, but hopes are slim for finding more survivors six days after the quake.

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