Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Haiti quake toll rises as gangs hamper aid efforts

Haiti quake toll rises as gangs hamper aid efforts

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Men hand out supplies to a crowd of earthquake victims during the distribution of food and water in Les Cayes, Haiti, August 20, 2021. AFP

Haiti quake toll rises as gangs hamper aid efforts

The death toll in the major earthquake that struck Haiti on August 14 has risen to 2,207, authorities said on August 22, as attacks on aid convoys have complicated efforts to bring relief to survivors.

“New bodies have been found in the south,” said a statement from the country’s civil protection office, adding that 344 people remain missing and 12,268 have been listed as injured. The previously reported toll was 2,189 dead.

Search-and-rescue workers are continuing to pick through the jumbled mounds of debris left by the powerful 7.2-magnitude quake, but hopes of finding survivors were fading by the hour.

Haitian authorities said nearly 600,000 people were directly affected by the disaster and are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

But efforts to deliver food, water and medical supplies to quake victims have been complicated not just by road and bridge damage but by attacks on aid convoys by so far unidentified gangs.

“We have a security problem that is becoming more and more serious,” said Jerry Chandler, director of Haiti’s civil protection agency.

Since early June, a 2km stretch of highway running to the southwest peninsula from Port-au-Prince has been unsafe to travel, amid persistent gang violence in a desperately poor neighbourhood of the capital.

“We’re literally facing a problem of banditry, and we’re working flat out with the police, who are sending reinforcements to the south,” Chandler said.

Some of the worst destruction was in hard-to-reach rural areas, so the Haitian authorities have been using a UN helicopter and eight US aircraft to deliver aid.

Aid delivery in hard-hit Les Cayes, Haiti’s third-largest city, was being organised largely by inexperienced private groups or individuals, and fights have broken out amid those waiting for help.

“We don’t want to discourage the good Samaritans,” Chandler said, but he urged people to communicate with his office so it could help organise the most efficient delivery of aid to those in greatest need.

Brazil meantime joined in the aid efforts, dispatching a military KC-390 cargo plane carrying a team of 23 firemen and 10 tonnes of medical and emergency equipment to Haiti.

“Solidarity is a characteristic of the Brazilian people,” President Jair Bolsonaro said in announcing the flight.


  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to