The death toll in Haiti may be “well over 100,000,” says the country’s prime minister. As the estimated death toll rises, Haitian President Rene Preval described the scene as one of “unimaginable ruin”: “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed.” Press reports describe the capital city of Port-au-Prince as “mostly destroyed.” Experts say the 7.0 quake is the worst to have hit the impoverished nation in over 200 years. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has declared “a major humanitarian emergency,” and stressed the need for “a major relief effort.”
Rescue teams from countries including Canada, France and Germany have been dispatched. The International Red Cross—under the leadership of a Canadian official—is assembling an international response team. But in the meantime, meaningful action is difficult. Doctors Without Borders reportedly lost all three of its medical facilities in Port-Au-Prince; a member of its emergency management team admits that “the best we can offer [victims] at the moment is first aid and stabilization.” Many neighbourhoods remain inaccessible to rescuers.