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Hope of Finding Earthquake Survivors Fading

Hope of Finding Earthquake Survivors Fading

Emergency medical team members take care of Haiti earthquake survivors after arriving on a French flight at Pole Caraibes airport in Pointe-a-Pitre on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe late January 14, 2010. Thousands of people injured in Haiti's

Dallas Morning News via YellowBrix

January 15, 2010

“They are slowly getting more angry,” said David Winhurst, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Haiti.

The Haitian National Police had virtually disappeared, Winhurst and another U.N. official said. The 3,000 peacekeeping troops around the capital would probably be sufficient to handle any unrest, they said, but plans were being made to bring in reinforcements from the 6,000 others around the country.

Despite the strength of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the United Nations reported that damage appeared to be confined to the capital and a few outlying areas, with the rest of the country largely spared.

The struggle to survive intensified Thursday in dramas that played out around the city.

At a collapsed trade school, the haunting voice of a teenager, Jhon Verpre Markenley, came from a dark crevice in the rubble. “Get me out!” he cried.

Verpre’s father risked his own life to save his son’s, crouching deep into the hole with a blow torch to wear away the metal that pinned his son’s leg. Hours later, the young man was free. His mother danced.

At the collapsed U.N. peacekeeping headquarters, search-and-rescue firefighters from Fairfax County, Va., pulled an Estonian guard, Tarmo Joveer, alive and unhurt from the ruins at 8 a.m. Thursday, 39 hours after the quake – a “small miracle,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York.

At the ruins of the Montana Hotel, another U.N. office, a French rescue team extracted three people alive and one corpse, Winhurst said.

But hope was fading for perhaps tens of thousands of others. Residents interviewed throughout the city said the cries they heard emanating from many collapsed buildings in the initial hours after the quake have begun to soften, if not quiet completely.

“There’s no more life here,” said a grandmother, who rapped a broom against concrete in hopes that her four missing relatives might somehow respond.

Pascale Valerie Lisnay, whose brother was buried in the collapsed trade school, said she longed to hear anything from him, a moan, a cry, anything to give her hope that he was still alive. She dialed her brother’s cellphone number again and again, tears filling her eyes each time it failed to connect.

“He’s gone,” she said.

Ronald Jedna was trapped in the wreckage of an apartment building with heavy beams pressing against his chest. He said he tried to cry out, but his throat was too dry and he was too weak. Eventually, a neighbor peered through a tiny slit, discovered him and managed to pry him loose.

“A day felt like a year,” said Jedna, who was covered with white dust. “You’re buried alive. You can’t scream. You wonder if anyone will ever come.”