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Haiti Earthquake Update: Day Four

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti at approximately 4:53 p.m. ET on 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. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 50,000 people may have died.

This is Day Four of CBSNews.com's earthquake coverage. For our earlier minute-by-minute coverage, see Day Three and Day Two. And for a broader overview, see our full coverage.


12:15 a.m. ET: CBS News Station WFOR-TV in Miami reports how ham radios have become a lifeline for communication between the United States and Haiti.
Local Video from CBS4 in Miami

11:40 p.m. ET: The Associated Press breaks down various numbers related to the earthquake from the 3 million people needing help to the 13 trucks carrying bottled water into the country from the neighboring Dominican Republic.

(CBS)
11:30 p.m. ET: Groups that vet charities are raising doubts about the organization backed by Haitian-born rapper Wyclef Jean, questioning its accounting practices and ability to function in earthquake-hit Haiti, The Associated Press reports.

(At left: Haitian-born rapper Wyclef Jean)

Even as more than $2 million poured into The Wyclef Jean Foundation Inc. via text message after just two days, experts questioned how much of the money would help those in need.

"It's questionable. There's no way to get around that," Art Taylor, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, based in Arlington, Va., told the AP.

11:01 p.m. ET: Social Order Breakdown Watch: From the Times of London, a report that aid workers say "more security was needed as the Haitians' grief and shock began to turn to rage and blame. Last night most of the shops in the city had been looted." And: U.N. warns that "Haiti's capital could quickly descend into rioting if three million hungry, thirsty and traumatised earthquake survivors don't receive emergency aid soon."

10:55 p.m. ET: Social Order Breakdown Watch: If you're starving and sack a vacant supermarket, let's not call you a looter. But something else seems to be happening in Haiti. Televisions are being taken. So are electric fans and stereos -- even as trapped quake victims are lying in the rubble nearby, crying out for help. Haitians are making axes from wood nailed together. Bands of men and boys armed with machetes prowl the streets, according to the Toronto Star: "'They are scavenging everything. What can you do?' said Michel Legros, 53, as he waited for help to search for seven relatives buried in his collapsed house. A Russian search-and-rescue team said the looting and general insecurity were forcing them to suspend their efforts after nightfall." Agence France Press reports looting has become "widespread": "'Men suddenly appeared with machetes to steal money,' said Evelyne Buino, a young beautician, after a long night in a neighborhood not far from the ruined city center. 'This is just the beginning.' 'We need to protect and guard (our home). There are many armed men, a lot of looting,' (said) Eglide Victor, whose shabbily built house was the only one left standing on his street in the heart of the Haitian capital." On the other hand, the United Nations says reports of looting of its warehouses were exaggerated, and most of the stockpile has been recovered.

10:25 p.m. ET: Will rotting corpses spread disease? It's a macabre question but, as the temperatures remain sweltering and rotting begins, Haitians are wondering "what to do with all these bodies that are starting to decompose?" Intuition may say that burying or burning them is necessary to fend off disease, but the Red Cross stresses that dead bodies do not cause epidemics. It says health risks to the living are "negligible, unless they are helping to move bodies." And: "Collecting bodies is not the most urgent task after a disaster. The priority is to care for the living." Finally: "There is no public health justification for rapid mass burials. Rushing to dispose of bodies without proper identification does more harm than good. Burying several individuals together can traumatize families and communities and may have serious legal consequences, in that it may be impossible to recover and identify individual sets of remains later."

Here's a more definitive analysis from the Pan American Health Organization, saying: "Victims of natural disasters usually die from trauma and are unlikely to have acute or 'epidemic-causing' infections. This indicates that the risk that dead bodies pose for the pub- lic is extremely small. However, persons who are involved in close contact with the dead—such as military personnel, rescue workers, volunteers, and others—may be exposed to chronic infectious hazards, including hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, HIV, enteric pathogens, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis." One real problem, however, is contamination of groundwater unless the grave site is carefully chosen.

10:15 p.m. ET: Tweets in the face of disaster.

10:04 p.m. ET: And now, pleas not to forget Jacmel, a port town and tourist destination on the coast about a seven-hour walk from the capital of Port-au-Prince. Aid is flowing into the capital, and locals are worried that the smaller town may be ignored. A Radio New Zealand report: "Mark Stuart, who runs an orphanage in Jacmel, a city of 50,000 people on the south coast, says that at least 3000 homes have been destroyed there. Another report has a fifth of the city's buildings destroyed. Jacmel is about 32 kilometres from the capital but aid can't get through because the road has collapsed."

9:33 p.m. ET: On the right, there was the bizarre statement from televangelist Pat Robertson. And now, on the left, there's an equally bizarre statement from actor-turned-liberal-activist Danny Glover, who blamed the earthquake on the lack of a definitive agreement at the Copenhagen summit to transfer money from wealthier nations to poorer ones. Here's what he said, at about 1 min 55 sec: "A threat that could happen anywhere in the Caribbean to these island nations... because of global warming, because of climate change... When we did what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I'm sayin'? We have to act now."

9:25 p.m. ET: A Los Angeles Times reporter at the airport tells PBS Newshour that gas is becoming very, very scarce. There are mile-long gasoline lines already, "and that's not an exaggeration." And drinking water is being almost "impossible" to find.

9:20 p.m. ET: Next problem: Gas shortages. There's a report of a "crazy scene at Texaco near airport" and that U.S. media companies are paying $50 a gallon for gas for the generator. " No gas station is serving" in Port-au-Prince, and soon generators will be out of gas. Because of the poor quality of the electrical grid, generators are commonplace, but fuel stockpiles will only last so long. Which also jeopardizes Internet and mobile phone connectivity.

9:13 p.m. ET: More photos from Friday, mostly of crumpled buildings.

9:05 p.m. ET: In wake of quake, Time magazine asks, will criminal gangs take over Haiti?

9:02 p.m. ET: Some water and other supplies arrive by land from the Dominical Republic.

8:55 p.m. ET: Bodies are being burned and the Red Cross has run out of body bags, according to a Canadian Press report: "In Carrefour, a shantytown south of Port-au-Prince, the bodies are being taken by the truckload to be burned - easily more than 2,000, maybe more than 3,000, said civil protection co-ordinator Jean-Remy Bien-Aime. And indeed, people are burning bodies at a garbage dump next to the ocean. Someone has even dumped a casket into the big trash pile aflame with human wreckage."

8:49 p.m. ET: San Francisco's irreverent alternative newspaper, SF Weekly, asks Pat Robertson's spokesman if California is also cursed. After all, the state recently suffered a magnitude-6.5 temblor, it's basically bankrupt, and there must be plenty of libertine excesses to be found in some areas. The response: "I don't know. I can e-mail you a statement."

8:45 p.m. ET: "Progress remained slow. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, for instance, floated five miles offshore, unable to find a place to unload supplies because of extensive damage to Haiti's main port. Residents are getting increasingly desperate." That's according to the Wall Street Journal.

8:39 p.m. ET: From the U.K. Independent: "Pyres of burning tires that incinerate cadavers that have remained unattended too long in the dust and heat, lit by residents afraid that the carrion will attract prowling dogs and endanger children."

8:33 p.m. ET: Retired basketball star Alonzo Mourning has flown to Haiti to assist relief workers.

8:23 p.m. ET: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is planning to visit Haiti on Sunday.

8:15 p.m. ET: Tips from the American Psychological Association: "Take a news break. Watching endless replays of footage from the disaster can make your stress even greater."

8:13 p.m. ET: Even the U.S. government, hardly an early adopter when it comes to technology, is lending a hand in locating missing persons.

8:05 p.m. ET: A Dominican Republic border town is bracing for "tens of thousands" of Haitian refugees.

7:58 p.m. ET: Katie Couric and our CBS News team have a report about the effect of the quake on Haiti's children.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

7:52 p.m. ET: Here's a disturbing audio slide show from the Los Angeles Times.

7:47 p.m. ET: If you want to volunteer, or find a volunteer, some programmers have created HaitiVolunteer.org. Google's Appspot.com is providing an I'm-looking-for-someone and I-have-info-about-someone matchmaking service.

7:40 p.m. ET: Air-lifted supplies are not being distributed very well: "Even when the relief planes are able to land, there are not enough workers to unload them, too little warehouse space to store supplies and no clear paths to the most heavily damaged neighborhoods."

7:31 p.m. ET: Food distribution is going "very badly," according to Benoit Thiry, deputy country director of the World Food Program. And, also from the Washington Post: "Some angry Haitians mistook the 2008 manufacture date on packages of the high-energy biscuits for an expiration date and loudly demanded that others begging for food refuse to accept the handouts."

7:24 p.m. ET: Haitians illegally in the United States -- that is, already present right now -- can legally stay and need not worry about deportation. That's according to the Obama administration. But what happens if the situation in Haiti deteriorates further, and thousands set sail for Miami?

7:17 p.m. ET: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: "A high proportion of the three million people in the capital area are without access to food, water, shelter and electricity."

7:15 p.m. ET: The Federal Aviation Adminstration says that at the request of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Haiti's neighboring countries, the FAA will now coordinate air traffic into Port-au-Prince's airport.

7:10 p.m. ET: More on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Haiti: We've heard that it will be a quick visit to the airport, and only the airport. She'll meet with Haitian President Rene Preval, United Nations staff, and U.S. military and non-governmental representatives.

7:07 p.m. ET: The Federal Aviation Administration's ground stop, which we mentioned earlier, was extended until at least 6 p.m. (that is, an hour ago). We'll advise when we have an update. The updated advisory notes: "ONLY HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT AIRCRAFT THAT HAVE CONTACTED THE FAA COMMAND CENTER RECOVERY DESK WILL BE CONSIDERED FOR EXEMPTION FROM THE GROUND STOP. THIS GROUND STOP AND PROCEDURE APPLIES TO ALL DOMESTIC USA DEPARTURES BOTH CIVILIAN AND MILITARY. EXEMPTIONS WILL SOLELY BE BASED BY ETA AND AVAILABILITY OF RAMP SPACE."

7:05 p.m. ET: From the State Department: About 1,000 American citizens have now been evacuated from Haiti. There are six confirmed fatalities among U.S. Citizens, including one State Department official. There also are as many as 15 other American citizens missing and presumed -- but not confirmed -- dead.

6:08 p.m. ET: A senior Haitian official says that the death toll from the earthquake , the Reuters news agency reports.

Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime gave the news agency that estimate Friday. It's the latest in a series of fluctuating estimates that have hit as high as 500,000 in the earthquake's immediate aftermath.

"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies; we anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total although we will never know the exact number," Bien-Aime told Reuters.

Earlier Friday, Aramick Louis, the secretary of state for public safety, told the news agency that 40,000 bodies have been buried and another 100,000 people probably died in the earthquake.

5:24 p.m. ET: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Haiti Saturday with Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the secretary announced Friday.

They will meet with Haitian President Rene Preval and other members of the Haitian government, as well as U.S. civilian and military leaders guiding the relief efforts from Haiti.

"We will also be conveying very directly and personally to the Haitian people our long term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies to reinforce President Obama's message that they are not facing this crisis alone," Clinton said. "I will also be able to see firsthand the ongoing efforts and deployment of U.S. government personnel and resources for maximum impact to support the vital lifesaving relief and recovery efforts."

5:13 p.m. ET: The Obama administration will allow Haitians in United States illegally to remain because of the earthquake, The Associated Press reports.

(friendsoftheorphans.org)
5:10 p.m. ET: Another American connected to the Friends of the Orphans organization has died. Ryan Kloos, 24, was in Haiti visiting his sister Erin Kloos, a 26-year-old volunteer for the organization, when the earthquake hit, the group announced on its Web site.

(At left, brother and sister Ryan and Erin Kloos)

Ryan Kloos's body was recovered from the Fr. Wasson Center in Petionville Wednesday. Erin Kloos was rescued from the center the same day and is now in stable condition in a south Florida hospital's intensive care unit. She will likely need to undergo surgery for arm injuries, but her prognosis is good.

The body of a Friends of the Orphans volunteer, 22-year-old Molly Hightower, was discovered in the rubble of a collapsed orphanage in Port-au-Prince early Friday.

4:41 p.m. ET: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells reporters she will travel to Haiti Saturday.

4:36 p.m. ET: A senior Haitian official says 40,000 bodies have been buried and another 100,000 people probably died in the earthquake, the Reuters news agency reports.

The official, Aramick Louis, the secretary of state for public safety, also told the news agency that gangs were beginning to form in the streets.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
4:11 p.m. ET: Haitian earthquake survivors and aid workers .

(At left, girls collect water from a broken pipe in the ground Friday to take back to their families who are camped in vacant lots in Port-au-Prince.)

One nurse told The Associated Press she's been at a tent city with thousands of displaced people since Tuesday with no water. In her words, "We can't cook food. We can't do anything."

A woman at a water treatment facility was selling the last few bottles of treated water today. She says the plant won't produce more until electricity is restored to Port-au-Prince.

3:40 p.m. ET: More details about the students and faculty members from Lynn University caught in the earthquake's aftermath: Spokesman Jason Hughes said the university has two rescue teams in Haiti looking for and two professors. At the time of the earthquake, the group was spread around the Hotel Montana. The still-missing students were all thought to have been in their rooms; the professors were last seen in the hotel's fitness center.

Seven of the uninjured eight students who are now back in Florida were at the hotel pool; the eighth student was in her room and re-joined the group after the earthquake struck.

3:27 p.m. ET: The Federal Aviation Administration initiated another "ground stop" for all flights bound for Port-au-Prince from the United States. The reasons behind the stop were the same as those for Thursday's halt, no ramp space for flights to land and no gas to re-fuel planes for their return trips.

2:31 p.m. ET: The Coast Guard said it has evacuated nearly 250
U.S. citizens from Haiti to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Two Coast Guard cutters offloaded relief supplies and sent support personnel ashore to provide humanitarian assistance on Friday. A third cutter is en route to Miami to load medical supplies capable of restocking ground units in Haiti. A rescue helicopter crew also transported a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team to Port-au-Prince.

2:20 p.m. ET: The Navy hospital ship USNS COMFORT will depart Baltimore on Saturday to support the relief efforts in Haiti. Staff members from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Va., will be among the 550 doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff who will provide primary care, trauma care, pediatric care and orthopedic care to quake victims.

2:07 p.m. ET: More than 7,000 nurses in the U.S. have volunteered to go to Haiti to help injured survivors of the devastating earthquake. The Oakland-based National Nurses United says nurses nationwide have answered its appeal to travel to the island country. (AP)

1:11 p.m. ET: The Washington National Cathedral will host a prayer service for the earthquake victims in Haiti at 4 p.m., with the offering benefiting the Episcopal Relief and Development Haiti Fund (www.er-d.org).

12:27 p.m. ET: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said up to 50 per cent of the buildings in Haiti's capital and other areas hardest hit by the earthquake have been damaged or destroyed. Ban also said the U.N. will launch an emergency appeal later Friday for $550 million to provide food, water, shelter and other essentials for millions of Haitians. Ban called the international community's response so far "robust," but acknowledges "there is frustration" among Haitians with the pace of relief efforts.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said of about 12,000 U.N. personnel working in the country, 37 have been confirmed dead and 330 remain missing.

11:21 a.m. ET: In a conversation this morning with Haitian President Rene Preval, President Barack Obama pledged the full support of the American people for the government and people of Haiti in both the immediate recovery effort, and the long-term rebuilding effort. Preval said that he has been touched by the friendship of the American people, and expressed his condolences for the loss of American citizens in Haiti. Preval ended their half-hour discussion with a message for the American people, "from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Haitian people, thank you, thank you, thank you."

11:16 a.m. ET: Writing on Twitter at the still-intact Olafson Hotel, local musician Richard Morse (#RamHaiti) reports that dead bodies are becoming much more of a problem, and that some are being burned. Morse said there is a collapsed school behind St. Gerard with dead bodies in it, and reminds others that there has been relatively little information about the situation in Jacmel, about 25 miles from Port-au-Prince, which was also heavily damaged by the earthquake.

10:57 a.m. ET: The State Department has raised the number of confirmed deaths of Americans in Haiti to six. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday that in addition to the previously reported death of State Department employee Victoria DeLong, there have been at least five other confirmed U.S. deaths - all private U.S. citizens whose names have not been released publicly. Crowley said the U.S. death toll is going to rise further, but he offered no estimate. (AP)

10:52 a.m. ET: An evaluation of public and private hospitals and medical structures by the International Red Cross showed that most were stretched to the limit, with not enough doctors or nurses to handle the continuing influx of patients. Hospitals are hampered by water shortages, due to damaged water pipes and a lack of personnel and fuel to run generators at pumping stations where power supplies are down.

The Red Cross said a cargo plane carrying 40 tons of medical supplies is expected to reach the area Friday evening.

We've split our Day Four coverage into two parts. For previous updates, see the earlier part of Friday's coverage.

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