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Haiti president appeals for international aid

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Haiti is in the desperate need of medical aid following a devastating earthquake which left thousands of people dead, the country's president Rene Preval told CNN.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Tuesday. The quake's epicenter was 10 miles southwest of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of just 6 miles. It was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including two measuring 5.9 and 5.0. The Presidential Palace and the headquarters of the UN mission in the country lie in ruins.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the death toll from the quake could reach "well over 100,000."

"Some of the hospitals, they have collapsed," he said. "We need some hospitals, some medicine and some doctors."

He did not specify the death toll, saying that it was "too early to give a number." Preval added that he heard reports of death tolls ranging from 30,000 to 100,000, but the true toll is yet unknown.

The U.S., France, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Spain, Germany, China, Brazil, the U.K. and Russia have pledged aid to the disaster-hit country.

A Russian ministry spokesman said an Il-76 plane with a mobile hospital onboard will leave for Haiti on Thursday with 45 people onboard, including 20 doctors. The hospital, equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and surgery facilities, can accommodate up to 50 patients.

It can also employ, if necessary, an intensive care unit for 6-10 beds.

In addition, Russia will send a transport plane with two helicopters onboard, to be used in search operations, a first deputy Russian envoy to the U.N., Igor Scherbak, said.

A plane carrying a team of U.K. rescuers is currently unable to leave the Gatwick airport due to poor weather conditions.

Venezuela has already sent a relief plane with 19 doctors and 30 rescuers, as well as potable water and medicines.

Over 400 Cuban specialists, including 344 doctors are already involved in rescue efforts in Haiti, Cuba's top diplomat, Bruno Rodriguez, said. He added that they have already rendered medical assistance to some 676 people.

Belgium has sent a rescue team, which includes 20 doctors and 30 rescuers, the country's foreign minister said. The Belgian plane also carries water purification equipment.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the U.S. would have a "swift, coordinated and aggressive" response.

Italy has sent several rescue teams and 1 million euro (over $1.4 million). It will also allocate 1 million euro to support programs of the World Food Program and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Pope Benedict XVI has urged swift help to the quake-hit nation. The Bishops' Conference of Italy announced it would allocate 2 million euro (some 3 million) for disaster relief in Haiti.

The UN has allocated $10 million for urgent aid and called on all states provide aid, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

The European Commission has announced it would allocate three million euro for humanitarian aid.

The World Bank said it would allocate $100 million in urgent economic aid to the Caribbean state. The initiative, however, is yet to be approved by the organization's board of directors.

The French Red Cross and Doctors of the World (MDM) have also sent several teams of doctors.

Haiti is one of the poorest Caribbean states with almost 60% of economically active population unemployed and over 80% living below the poverty line.

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