'Disaster of the Century' Stymies Haiti's Leaders

Official relief efforts slow in coming; it's 'unimaginable,' says prez
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2010 3:27 PM CST

(Newser) – The sheer magnitude of the Haiti earthquake seems to have left the government there unable to mount any significant relief effort. Haitians were digging through the rubble with their bare hands as international relief agencies mobilized. "It's the disaster of the century," the director of Catholic Relief Services tells the Washington Post. "We should be prepared for thousands and thousands of dead and injured."

President Rene Preval called the devastation "unimaginable" and said it was too early to talk about death tolls. "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed." Earlier, the nation's prime minister said the death toll could reach "hundreds of thousands." President Obama, meanwhile, promised a "swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort." Three Americans have been confirmed dead.

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