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Haiti Earthquake Update: Day Three

(Daniel Morel)
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti at approximately 4:53 p.m. ET Tuesday has left the Caribbean nation in shambles as rescuers scramble to save lives and the U.S. and other governments mobilize an international rescue effort. Early reports indicate the death toll could be in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. (Haiti's population is nearly 10 million.) Track up-to-the-minute developments below as news unfolds and follow CBSNews.com's complete coverage:

Older updates from Days Two and Three of coverage from the Haitian earthquake can be found here. Our blog entry from Day Two of coverage can be found here.

12:14 a.m. ET: It's now Friday, and we're switching to our Day Four coverage. Updates will now be posted there, starting now. (This page will no longer be updated.)

11:54 p.m. ET: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an Atlanta-based employee working in Haiti remains missing. The CDC said in a statement Thursday that the 31-year-old woman was in Haiti at the time of the quake and is unaccounted for. There are 35 Haitians employed by the CDC in Port-au-Prince; 31 of those employees have been accounted for.

11:51 p.m. ET: The communications director for Republican Chuck DeVore's campaign for U.S. senator in California offered an unusual suggestion via Twitter. Josh Trevino wrote about Haiti: "The best thing the international community can do is tend the wounded, bury the dead, and then LEAVE. That includes all UN and charity." A followup post from Trevino added that he was "skeptical" that non-Haitians can build a functioning and stable society.

11:43 p.m. ET: In Haiti, according to The Scotsman, "Money is worth nothing right now -- water is the only currency." And lawlessness is threatening to break out.

11:40 p.m. ET: You can find earthquake survivors alive days later. It just becomes increasingly unlikely.

11:38 p.m. ET: The Washington Post reports: "In a collapsed school, the body of a student was slumped over what appeared to be a desk -- her dark-blue jumper and pink blouse covered in white dust. Jeanne Baptiste, who lost her husband and three of her five children in the quake, lay beneath a bed cloth strung between tree branches. Her sister mopped at a ragged wound on her stomach and tried to comfort the two surviving children." Others aren't waiting for the government to help and are burying corpses themselves.

11:30 p.m. ET: Will the Internet in Haiti go down? Excerpt: "Everything in Haiti (pre-earthquake) runs on generators and inverters and batteries == sometimes (pre-earthquake) we get a city power current. Now there is no city current. Right now the Internet companies need to use diesel and generators to offer us service. It won't likely last... and will come and go. We'll do our best to stay in touch. Diesel is going to go fast..."

11:20 p.m. ET: Yesterday we told you about Real Hope for Haiti, a Christian charitable effort that operates a medical clinic and a rescue center for young children. Since then, they've posted three sets of photos (#1, #2, and #3). Excerpt: "They were picking up bodies with tractors and buckets and dumping them into dump truck. He saw 10 dump trucks full of dead bodies making their way to the dump to do mass graves." And: "I am getting worried about our supply of infant formula. We are getting low. Ideas?" Here's how to donate.

11:15 p.m. ET: What happens when a nation's capital, such as Port-au-Prince, is devastated? With corpses rotting on the streets, no fresh water, and reports of lawlessness? Answer: people leave for smaller towns, which may not be able to accommodate the influx.

11:07 p.m. ET: While we're on the topic of economics, economist Don Boudreaux sent a letter to the Washington Post on Thursday which says: "The ultimate tragedy in Haiti isn't the earthquake; it's that country's lack of economic freedom. The earthquake simply but catastrophically revealed the inhuman consequences of this fact. Registering 7.0 on the Richter scale, the Haitian earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. But the quake that hit California's Bay Area in 1989 was also of magnitude 7.0. It killed only 63 people… These stark facts should be a lesson for those who insist that human habitats are made more dangerous, and human lives put in greater peril, by freedom of commerce and industry."

10:59 p.m. ET: Here's the Explanatory Map of the Day. Haiti is on the left and the Dominican Republic is on the right. Note which one has more trees. Trees are chopped up for wood; deforestation leads to erosion of topsoil and increased landslide risk.

10:50 p.m. ET: Why is Haiti so poor? Wealthier countries can afford to build safer structures, purchase backup power for hospitals, and provide better health care -- and Haiti was once arguably the richest colony in the world. Is it lack of property rights? Deforestation? Corruption? Interference from abroad? Insufficient economic freedom? Violence? Economist Tyler Cowen offers speculations about Haiti's economy and geopolitics. This essay blames the country's political elites.

10:33 p.m. ET: The BBC has a grim report: "The promise of aid has not yet materialized and many locals are still digging through the rubble with their hands. Most of the bodies are covered in white bed sheets or rolled inside carpets, but others have been left exposed to the hot sun and the stench of rotting bodies has begun to fill the air." There are also some photographs.

10:29 p.m. ET: No, Facebook doesn't seem to be blocking Haitian users.

10:25 p.m. ET: Charities and immigrant groups are planning an airlift of Haitian orphans to Florida. This echoes Operation Pedro Pan in the early 1960s.

10:23 p.m. ET: "Corpses in piles" outside the morgue, while "survivors searched among the dead for their loved ones," reports the Miami Herald. Bodies are being piled on sidewalks. Around 2,000 dead bodies are outside the General Hospital, swollen and fly-covered, in 90-degree heat. Dr. Ariel Henry, chief of staff for the Minister of Health, told the paper that only three public hospitals are functioning and that they need blood, water, syringes, antibiotics, and painkillers.

10:16 p.m. ET: Time to debunk the UPS-will-ship-packages-to-Haiti-for-free rumor. No, the delivery company will not do that. It's true that UPS will donate $1 million to relief efforts, but it has refuted the rumor on its Web site, adding that "the destruction of roads and communications networks means our own shipping services to Haiti are on hold."

10:09 p.m. ET: Rep. Ron Paul, the medical doctor and former Republican candidate for U.S. president, discusses the Haitian situation in a YouTube video. Paul says that the U.S. government should help out a bit because we're nearby, but the bulk of the relief efforts should come from the private sector. In the long run, Paul says, the best solution is to "introduce them to sound economic policies so they wouldn't suffer" and "just handing out money is not going to solve the problem." It's a good point -- in a few months or years, after the world's attention shifts elsewhere, Haitians will need a functional government and functional economy. That the Duvalier family ran the country as dictators for decades, and that U.S. government extracted Jean-Bertrand Aristide (amidst allegations of kidnapping) are not cause for optimism.


9:59 p.m. ET: Mass graves already: René Préval, the Haitian president, said that 7,000 bodies had been buried in mass graves, according to the Times of London. Also: roads are impassable, the government is barely functioning, and there is no running water or electricity.

9:53 p.m. ET: U.S. taxpayers have spent over $15.6 million on disaster preparedness in Haiti from fiscal year 2006 through fiscal year 2009, according to a September 2009 report from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a federal agency focusing on foreign aid.

9:45 p.m. ET: UNICEF, the United Nations agency, is almost out of supplies in Haiti, and would have been out already if some supplies hadn't already been located there in advance. The first UNICEF plane was due to arrive in Port-au-Prince on Thursday afternoon from Panama. Also docked in Panama is a cargo ship from Copenhagen that had been enroute to Haiti with supplies before the quake. The ship has been diverted to Panama and supplies -- mostly tarpaulins, water containers, blankets, and so on -- will arrive aboard a second aircraft that will land in Haiti on Saturday.

9:42 p.m. ET: A live report from San Francisco's ABC affiliate says that a Sacramento-area search and rescue team is waiting to leave for Haiti, but hasn't been able to do so yet. They're waiting to hitch a ride with the U.S. military from Travis Air Force base. Unfortunately, unless they get there in the next day or two, the search efforts will start to become body recovery efforts.

9:40 p.m. ET A U.S. government and military update: The Los Angeles and Fairfax search and rescue teams are on the ground and working, and an additional team is due to arrive from Miami. The U.S. military's Southern Command is trying to prioritize landings at the airport so that teams, medical teams and other help can land quickly. Members of the Fairfax team are staffing the airport to facilitate arrival of international search teams. Three U.S. military helicopters are scheduled to arrive from the Dominican Republic loaded with water, medical supplies, hardware and personnel. They are prepared to return to the Dominican Republic carrying injured people. Three U.S. ships offering hospital services and medical support are scheduled to arrive in Haiti on January 15, January 18, and January 22. Two additional craft, with helicopter and small boat support, are also planned.

9:32 p.m. ET: The International Medical Corps' Emergency Response Team is providing care at the central hospital near the Presidential Palace during the day and at the Hotel Villa Creole at night. (The group is a non-profit organization that focuses on aiding crippled health care systems.) Other members of the Emergency Response Team are conducting a rapid needs assessment and visiting hospitals around the city to explore their condition.

9:29 p.m. ET: $7 million has been raised via mobile phone donations for Haiti earthquake relief through the short codes managed by the Mobile Giving Foundation. This is a new record.

9:23 p.m. ET: Social Order Breakdown Watch: Anger grew in Haiti as thousands of traumatized residents left without homes, food or water roamed the streets on Thursday, according to Agence France Press, which reported gunshots. One resident warns: "If international aid doesn't come, the situation will deteriorate quickly." The U.K. Telegraph reports aid workers' concern about "fights breaking out over dwindling water supplies," and that thieves have been stealing electronics from a local supermarket. Some of the gunshots reportedly come from families fending off attackers or looters. This is yet another challenge for humanitarian workers, many of whom are unarmed.

9:12 p.m. ET: Ouch. The lead element of the 82nd Airborne was not allowed to enter Haiti today because of a packed airport, ABC News reports. Their plane circled for hours and eventually retreated to Puerto Rico for the evening; they'll try again on Friday. Their plan is to provide security for relief workers and, if needed, to help in the relief efforts. ABC News also interviewed doctors and other humanitarian workers stuck in the Dominican Republican, sitting on the floor in the airport, frustrated that they are simply unable to make their way into the airport. The question: Temperatures in Port-au-Prince are topping 90 degrees every day. How long can a person trapped in rubble survive without succumbing to dehydration? Three days?

9:03 p.m. ET: The FAA may be allowing some Haiti-bound humanitarian flights departing the United States to resume.

8:57 p.m. ET: The Wall Street Journal's main Haiti story for Friday, which appeared on their Web site about an hour ago, is titled: "Haitian Rescue Stymied Amid Chaos." Their summary is not heartening: Nobody is in charge. Airplanes loaded with supplies can't land because parking is limited. Communications are down. Corpses lying in the streets are covered with flies. At least 4,000 metric tons of supplies at the airport need to be distributed.

8:30 p.m. ET: The Baptist Haiti Mission has a report: "The BHM hospital at our headquarters in Fermathe is overflowing with earthquake victims. We are the only hospital serving the surrounding rural mountain villages. Since hospitals have collapsed or suffered major damage, many people are traveling from around the capital to receive help. In the video, you can see the early hours at the Fermathe hospital following the earthquake." You can donate to them online. The BHM's Twitter feed says: "Using every hallway in hospital & clinic now. We have just opened up another building for people to be on the floor. People keep coming."

8:15 p.m. ET: Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, has responded to Pat Robertson's comments on MSNBC. (Robertson, of course, claimed that Haiti is "cursed" after a "pact with the Devil."

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8:09 p.m. ET: If you missed the televised version of our CBS News special report or the live Webcast, you can see the archived versions online. Here's a summary from Katie Couric, our coverage of looting and lawlessness, a report on makeshift medicine, and news that U.S. military aid is arriving.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

7:59 p.m. ET: Major League Baseball has, ah, stepped up to the plate with a $1 million donation. This comes after a $500,000 donation from the New York Yankees and $250,000 pledge from Lance Armstrong's charity. (See his blog post.)

7:51 p.m. ET: Speaking of Canada, here's a first-hand report from the Toronto Star's Jesse McLean, who accompanied an airborne relief shipment to the airport in the Dominican Republic and planned to go by land to Haiti. It begins: "There were 3,000 pounds of emergency supplies -- enough water purification units to serve more than 50,000 Haitians -- sitting outside the airport in Puerto Plata, DR. Cab drivers clustered around, offering rides to the border, but no further."

7:46 p.m. ET: We reported earlier that a military reconnaissance team from Canada arrived Wednesday aboard a C-130 transport plane to assess the need for tents, mosquito nets, and so on. And now Canada has sent two ships from the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, according to the local Halifax paper. About 500 crews were loading supplies on Wednesday; the HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Halifax are expected to arrive early next week. By then, Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team is expected to have arrived by air on a C-17.

7:41 p.m. ET: In yesterday's update, we mentioned Richard Morse, who runs the Oloffson Hotel Port-au-Prince Haiti and is a member of the Haitian band RAM. Morse's Twitter updates since we last checked in with him: "Bodies are being brought to the cemetery. decomposing bodies everywhere. looting is beginning. The prison is empty. dead bodies in the prison." And: "Bring the people, the help and the aid. we haven't doctors or morgues or medical treatment and supplies. Bring it on!!!" And: "Horrific stories of death. Death is everywhere. Death is all over…"

7:35 p.m. ET: From CBS Radio: A group from the Blacksburg United Methodist Church in Virginia was on a mission in Haiti when the earthquake struck. The team was assisting with some home repairs in Cité Soleil, a densely populated shanty town in Port-au-Prince. The church learned from Facebook postings that the entire group is safe.

7:31 p.m. ET: Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, says the real issue is "speed." The relief promised is not, he says, arriving fast enough. He'd like the U.S. military to help with delivering supplies, including what's already arrived. No update on death toll. He says much of the cell network has been restored.

7:25 p.m. ET: More photos from Haiti posted on Flickr by Carel Pedre. Here's our CBS News interview with Pedre, a radio host.

7:17 p.m. ET: Molly Hightower is a 22-year-old missing in Haiti. She's from the Seattle area and has been volunteering for the organization Friends of the Orphans since last June; here's a her blog chronicling her work in Haiti. Molly's sister, Jordan Hightower, has been posting updates on Twitter. Here's an article about the Hightower family's vigil, and another saying Molly was caught in a seven-story building that collapsed.

7:10 p.m. ET: The U.K.'s Daily Mail has published some remarkable photographs to accompany an article focusing on Haiti's children. An excerpt: "This is not a safe place for children. We know that the prison has collapsed and lone children are incredibly vulnerable. Children are petrified and in danger. Many will have been orphaned or be badly injured themselves and in urgent need of medical help. They are sleeping on their own, trying to cope with the trauma of seeing dead bodies, and will have no idea where to go for help."

7:05 p.m. ET: Social Order Breakdown Watch: Does Haiti have a government left? Reuters says the answer is no. Two days after the earthquake, there is no "noticeable response from authorities in Haiti" and a "dangerous vacuum in security and government."

6:55 p.m. ET: Popular Mechanics dares to ask: "Could Haiti's Earthquake Tragedy Have Been Prevented?" Researchers told the Haitian government years ago "exactly where the fault is. We've told them how fast it was building up elastic energy, and we've told them that right now, if it was to go, it could produce a 7.2 in magnitude or larger event." But did anyone listen?

6:47 p.m. ET: The Mormon Church is sending two planes to Haiti this week, each loaded with over 80,000 lbs of food and emergency supplies such as tents and medicine. A statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says one plane is leaving from Denver as early as Thursday and the next is expected to leave from Miami later this week. All Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in the country are reportedly safe.

6:41 p.m. ET: An Arizona State University graduate student whose foot had to be amputated has made it back to the United States on a relief flight, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Lynn University has accounted for all but one of its 12 students in the country. Friends of two NYU doctoral students say they have not been able to make contact.

6:35 p.m. ET: We're hearing that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will update reporters at 11 a.m. ET Friday. This will happen at the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti through a video conference.

6:28 p.m. ET: A reminder: The live CBS News Special Report from Port-au-Prince will begin in two minutes. You can tune in through your television, or watch it online.

5:54 p.m. ET: President Obama was updated on the increasing U.S. presence in Haiti and the latest information on search-and-rescue efforts late this afternoon, according to a White House spokesman.

Mr. Obama also spoke with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France about coordinating immediate and long-term international relief efforts in the country.

It was the second update Mr. Obama received during the day. He received one Thursday morning from his military and national security team before addressing reporters with members of his cabinet.

5:30 p.m. ET: Former President George W. Bush and former President Clinton issued a joint statement saying they are "deeply saddened" by the "devastation and suffering" the earthquake caused.

The former presidents said they will be leading fund-raising efforts in the private sector because President Obama requested their help.

"In the days and weeks ahead, we will draw attention to the many ways American citizens and businesses can help meet the urgent needs of the Haitian people," Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton said in the joint statement. "Americans have a long history of showing compassion and generosity in the wake of tragedy."

5:20 p.m. ET: Haitian President Rene Preval said around 7,000 victims of the earthquake have been buried in a mass grave, the Reuters news agency reports.

(State Department)
5:06 p.m. ET: A foreign service officer has been identified as the first American victim who died in the earthquake, according to a State Department spokesman.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said diplomat Victoria DeLong (Pictured at left) died Tuesday at her home.

DeLong worked at the American embassy in Haiti as a cultural affairs officer. She's worked in Haiti since February 2009. She joined the State Department in 1983.

Older updates from Days Two and Three of earthquake coverage can be found here.