City gears up to help desperate thousands in Haiti
CAPETONIANS are gearing up to help the hundreds of thousands affected by Haiti’s devastating earthquake, with doctors and nurses on standby to fly to the stricken island nation and a local company pledging millions of rand for aid.
Specialist doctors from the Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children’s hospitals are on standby to leave for Haiti within days. The Red Cross and Groote Schuur doctors and nurses have been given permission by the Department of Health to take leave immediately to join the relief efforts.
Cape Town-based company Oasis Holdings has pledged R5 million toward relief efforts.
The charity spearheading South African volunteer efforts, Gift of the Givers, says there has been an overwhelming response from the medical and search-and-rescue fraternities.
Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman, who heads Gift of the Givers, said yes- terday his organisation has 42 medical and search-and-rescue workers in Haiti, two more teams are en route and more are on standby. One team left on Wednesday and a team of 10, made up of emergency medicine doctors, maxillofacial surgeons and nurses, is expected to arrive in the capital, Port-auPrince, today.
Dr Yakub Essack, who is coordinating the volunteer teams, said the team due to arrive today will assess which specialists are required. “Many doctors are working in a makeshift hospital; we have turned a cathedral into a hospital. Once we have an assessment of the kinds of injuries we are dealing with and what can be done with the equipment we have, we will be able to say which of the specialists are needed,” Essack said.
Sooliman said offers of money, equipment and food had been coming in from across the country. A company has offered generators worth R180 000. Sooliman has dug into his organisation’s pockets to buy air tickets, equipment and supplies. Another team of trauma doctors and nurses was due to fly from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport last night.
Prominent South Africans, including Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel, are appealing for aid, reports Sapa-AP.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu also appealed for donations.
In Haiti, South African search-and-rescue operators have begun fresh searches following a series of severe tremors on the island yesterday morning. The most recent tremor, which measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, destroyed dozens of buildings which were left standing after last week’s earthquake, and trapped scores more people in the rubble.
The tremor came less than 24 hours after two tremors struck the island on Thursday as the South Africans were searching for up to 4 000 missing Catholic missionaries, believed to be trapped under the rubble of their homes and in church buildings. The area they were searching is home to St Anthony Mary Claret missionaries.
South African doctors and rescuers moved quickly after yesterday’s tremors, setting up a makeshift hospital at their base in Port-au-Prince to treat survivors.
“We are working quickly to take any possible survivors who will be brought here from already overflowing hospitals and makeshift clinics dotted around the city,” said Charles McClung, as rescuers left the base. McClung said the international rescue mission was quickly moving to a body recovery mission.
“The chances of finding people alive more than 10 days after the earthquake are now very slim.”
PLEASE HELP: Graça Machel