One of MSF's senior staff, Stefano Zannini, was out for most of the night, trying to assess the needs in the city and looking at the state of the medical facilities. "The situation is chaotic," he said. "I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning. Many are damaged and I saw a distressing number of dead bodies. Some parts of the city are without electricity and people have gathered outside, lighting fires in the street and trying to help and comfort each other. When they saw that I was from MSF they were asking for help, particularly to treat their wounded. There was strong solidarity among people in the streets."
Another MSF coordinator there, Hans van Dillen, confirmed that Port-au-Prince was quite unable to cope with the scale of the disaster. "There are hunderds of thousands of people who are sleeping in the streets because they are homeless," said van Dillen. "We see open fractures, head injuries. The problem is that we can not forward people to proper surgery at this stage."
So many of the city's medical facilities have been damaged, healthcare is severely disrupted at precisely the moment when medical needs are high.
If you feel able to make a contribution, here are a few places you can do that to good effect:
Doctors without Borders
Partners in Health
In the meantime, the Christian Broadcast Network has not neglected to seize the opportunity for blaming the earthquake on the apparently demonic success of the Haitian Revolution two centuries ago. This is on the BBC's site:
2034 The US televangelist, Pat Robertson, claims the reason for Haiti's misfortunes is that the nation "swore a pact to the devil" two centuries ago. "They were under the heal of the French... And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French... And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other," he tells the Christian Broadcast Network.Yes, that is apparently the Christian Broadcast Network's spelling of "heel." So how many people listen to this guy? Can we expect to start hearing this on Fox News?