By Sophie Nicholson and Stephane Jourdain (AFP) – Jan 20, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE — A powerful new earthquake rumbled across the ruins of Haiti Wednesday, sending thousands of already traumatized survivors running through the streets, screaming in terror.
The 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck as dawn broke eight days after the Haitian capital was leveled by a massive temblor, measuring 7.0, that killed at least 75,000 people and left a million homeless.
"God wants to destroy all Haitians because they are bad, because they are cursed," Eleude Joseph, a shellshocked mother of two, told AFP at a squalid camp of 6,000 survivors in the Place Saint-Pierre.
'Why again?' panicked Haitians cry
There were no reports of anyone being killed or wounded by the strong aftershock, but some severely damaged buildings did come tumbling down, including the last surviving wall of the main cathedral.
Rescuers kept up their grim search through the rubble, elated by finding survivors who had defied the odds, including a five-year-old boy brought into hospital by his uncle on Wednesday.
Other survivors dug out on Tuesday included a woman, 25, found in the ruins of a supermarket, a 70-year-old woman who sang as she left behind the wreckage of the Port-au-Prince cathedral, and a 23-day-old baby girl.
But rescue efforts are likely to start being pulled back as a massive aid operation swung into gear to help hundreds of thousands trying to survive with little water in putrid makeshift camps where diarrhea was already rife.
The United States said it was pouring in 4,000 more troops, who had been due to deploy to the Middle East and Europe, while a US general said the capital's main port -- vital to moving in tonnes of aid -- should be up and running again on Friday.
Backed by three amphibious ships and a squadron of helicopters, the new troops should be in place by the weekend as the total US force helping out in Haiti swells above 15,000 in coming days.
Brazil was also looking to add 800 troops to its peacekeeping contingent in Haiti boosting its force to at least 2,000, while France and Canada both said they would send more police.
"We will be here as long as it takes, because now we have even more reason to stay," said Colonel Joao Batista Bernardes, the officer in charge of Brazil's battalion leading the UN stabilization force.
International efforts are also focusing on rebuilding the country, with a major donor conference set for Monday in Montreal.
IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called for a multilateral aid plan for Haiti on the scale of the US "Marshall Plan" that rebuilt Europe after World War II.
Strauss-Kahn said he believed Haiti "needs something that is big" as the Caribbean nation -- already one of the poorest and insecure countries in the world before the quake -- looks to the future.
Haiti's ambassador to Spain, Yolette Azor-Charles, said reconstruction could take 25 years and warned the death toll could top 200,000 as help has yet to reach many villages.
A 1,000-bed capacity US naval hospital ship meanwhile arrived off Haiti Wednesday with about 600 medical personnel, and was ready to start taking on board the worst of the injured.
The 70,000-tonne USNS Comfort will treat 30 to 50 patients at a time, chosen by Haitian officials from the thousands thronging hospitals and makeshift clinics.
After marines dramatically dropped in from helicopters above the presidential palace on Tuesday, troops were out in force early Wednesday patrolling streets in the business district of Haiti's quake-ravaged capital.
They ignored the looters picking through the debris -- for many scavenging from the collapsed buildings was the logical way to survive -- but ensured the security situation did not degenerate into riots.
"Look, when you are hungry and poor, nobody helps, you have to steal," one defiant young man named Vincent said, as looters plunged into the ruins of a flattened supermarket.
Haiti's City of God slum wonders about its hellish fate
Aid was still in short supply for tens of thousands of survivors, haunted by despair and the fear of more aftershocks as they inhabited the squalor of the rubble where countless bodies still lie buried.
"We were already poor before the earthquake. So now what are we?" asked Frantz Saint Hilaire, a student living in Port-au-Prince's City of God slum where desperate residents were still to see an international aid truck.
In Leogane, chaotic crowd prevents Haiti aid delivery
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile said Washington was working to slash through the red-tape needed to adopt children from Haiti, amid fears that thousands may have been orphaned by the tragedy.
The US government will "do all we can to expedite the travel of children who were in the line for adoption who have a legal permanent home, guardianship, waiting for them," Clinton told reporters.
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