PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAIT (Agencies: 14/1/2010): Thousands of Haitians are spending a second night in the open after the country’s catastrophic earthquake which may have killed tens of thousands.
Medical aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres reported a "massive influx" of casualties at its makeshift clinics, many of them with severe injuries.
The search for survivors under the rubble went on after darkness.
Substantial foreign aid for the three million people said to be in need is due to begin arriving within hours. The first US aid planes have already landed at the airport serving the capital, Port-au-Prince, and US naval ships are on the way.
EU states, Russia and China are among those sending rescue and medical teams by plane while pledges of aid have been made by countries around Latin America.
UN peacekeepers, who played a key role in maintaining public order in Haiti even before the quake, have been deployed to control any outbreaks of unrest as reports come in of looting.
With many key buildings destroyed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s fragile government infrastructure has been paralyzed.
Sleeping among the dead:
The 7.0-magnitude quake, Haiti’s worst in two centuries, struck at 1653 local time (2153 GMT) on Tuesday, just 15km south-west of Port-au-Prince and close to the surface.
Correspondents have described people sleeping amongst dead bodies in the grounds of one hospital, and say many streets are lined with corpses covered with white blankets.
Efforts to rescue survivors trapped in rubble continued after darkness fell but there is little heavy lifting equipment available and much of the work is being done by individuals with simple tools or their hands.
Stream of injured:
Patients with "severe traumas, head wounds, crushed limbs" have been streaming into MSF’s temporary structures but the agency is only able to offer them basic medical care, spokesman Paul McPhun told reporters in Toronto.
One of MSF’s emergency medical facilities collapsed during the quake while the other two were so badly damaged they became unusable, he said.