Officials fear as many as 200,000 people were killed in the quake that reduced most of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to rubble and impacted an estimated three million people, or one third of the country's population.

special report
Special Report: Haiti earthquake
"The urgency, today, is to save the people. The urgency, in some weeks, will be the reconstruction," Strauss-Kahn said.

Last week, the IMF promised an interest-free loan of $100 million in initial emergency funds to the Haitian government. However, the loan has drawn criticism for adding to the country's debt burden.

"The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan," Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF and the World Bank classify Haiti among "heavily indebted poor countries" eligible for debt forgiveness.

The Caribbean nation was granted $1.2bn in debt relief last June.

Economic recovery

Experts say cash flow needs to be urgently restored to begin recovery [Reuters]
The IMF is also working with donors to get cash circulating again in Haiti's devastated economy so people can buy food and civil servants can get paid, a senior IMF official said on Wednesday.

According to Nicolas Eyzaguirre, director of the IMF's western hemisphere department, banks will reopen shortly while some money transfer agencies are already functioning for remittances sent by Haitians living abroad.

Remittances for Haitian expatriates have been a major

"We need to urgently help Haiti to get its economy functioning again," he said.

Eyzaguirre said the cost to the Haitian economy wrought by the quake would probably exceed the $900m – or about 15 per cent of the country's GDP – caused by devastating hurricanes in 2008.

However he said in the early days after the quake there was still a lot of uncertainty over the full impact.

Davos agenda

Disaster-hit Haiti will also be one of the top agenda items at this year's gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Klaus Schwab, the group's chairman and founder, has said.

The annual meeting, which will draw more than 2,000 government, business and religious leaders from around the world, is scheduled to begin on January 27, two weeks after the earthquake struck.

Schwab said a special panel on Haiti will be held on January 28, where a reconstruction initiative should be outlined.

"We hope that we can present a major common effort to the world community showing true corporate global citizenship in Davos," Schwab said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

Former US president Bill Clinton, who acts as a special envoy for Haiti, and Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister and administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, will support the WEF's initiative.