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'150,000 dead' in Haiti's capital
Death toll will grow as figures from outside port-au-Prince emerge, official says.
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2010 16:44 GMT
More than 100,000 people are travelling north and southwest to escape the capital's devastation [AFP]
 

More than 150,000 people have been confirmed dead in the Port-au-Prince area alone following Haiti's devastating earthquake, the country's communications minister has said.

Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said on Sunday that many thousands more people could be dead in the rest of the country, while the bodies of others have been burned by relatives or remain trapped under collapsed buildings.

Lassegue said that the figure was compiled by CNE, a state company that has been collecting corpses from around the capital and burying them in a mass grave north of Port-au-Prince.

"Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble; 200,000 ... 300,000?" she said.

"Who knows the overall death toll?"

The United Nations said on Saturday that the government had confirmed 111,481 bodies had been collected following the 7.0 magnitude quake on January 12.

Urban exodus

Meanwhile, the international aid agency leading efforts to provide shelter for the hundreds of thousands of survivors appealed for thousands more tents and and other forms of shelter.

special report
Special Report: Haiti earthquake

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement that it had 10,000 family-sized tents in a warehouse in Port-au-Prince, but that "estimated needs stand at 100,000 to assist 500,000 persons".

Many of those made homeless by the quake are being resettled by Haitian authorities outside Port-au-Prince during reconstruction efforts.

Teresa Bo, Al Jazeeera's correspondent in Port-au-Prince, said people were taking advantage of the government's offer to take them by bus to the southwestern and northern parts of the country for free.

"Around 100,000 people have taken advantage of this. They are going to the southwestern part of the country away from Port-au-Prince where the situation is better.

"They are running away because they have nothing here, no food, no water, nothing."

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from Saint Marc, a coastal city north of Port-au-Prince said: "We've seen school buses packed with people heading north, where the country was less affected by the earthquake.

"The total number of people in this urban exodus could be around a million people we're told."

Immediate needs

Haiti's government estimated on Friday that around 609,000 people were without shelter in the Port-au-Prince area, according to the IOM.

Hundreds of Haitians gathered in the capital for a mass near the capital's Roman Catholic cathedral on Sunday, while others lined up to receive food packs, water and crackers from US and Brazilian tropps in Cite du Soleil, a Port-au-Prince slum.

Ken Keen, the US general leading the military's operations in the capital, said: "We are at the beginning of the massive effort to sustain providing food, water and medical assistance throughout the city.

"What we have been doing thus far is in a crisis reaction, obviously, to the situation, pushing out as much as we can to address the immediate needs, but we are entering a phase where have to be able to sustain it takes estimated one million rations a day in order to sustain it."

Source:
Al Jazeera an agencies
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