Thousands Feared Dead After Haiti Earthquake

Estimates of the dead have ranged from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands, but the numbers are impossible to confirm in the midst of chaos. Robert Siegel and Melissa Block on the latest in Haiti.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

We are hearing these descriptions of the disaster in Haiti after yesterday's earthquake: catastrophe, horrific, unbelievable, devastating. Estimates of the dead have ranged from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. But the numbers are impossible to confirm in the midst of chaos.

SIEGEL: In the streets, piles of rubble, buildings flattened, bodies stacked on top of each other, hospitals overwhelmed or destroyed. And people terrified to go inside any buildings as severe aftershocks continue.

BLOCK: Sonia Khush is the director of emergency response for Save The Children based in Washington, D.C. She heard this story about the quakes aftermath from a staff member on the ground in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Ms. SONIA KHUSH (Director, Emergency Response, Save the Children): He said the air was completely grey. It was full of dust. He could hear screaming and wailing. And then about an hour and a half later, it became dark. You know, it was nightfall and there was no electricity, so it was completely dark. And he said it was a surreal experience through the night because he could hear alternating sounds of first screaming and wailing and then occasionally he'd hear some cheering, you know, as somebody was found, for example, in the rubble and then hear screaming and wailing again.

And this went on throughout the night. And as aftershocks continued, he - they could continue to hear buildings falling. When my colleagues went out and about today, they just saw people sort of wondering the streets in shock. Nobody went back into their houses overnight because they are very afraid of aftershocks. There is so much destruction and damage. So, one of the first things we want to do is get a safe either plastic sheeting or some kind of tarp, you know, over people's heads to provide with them with a minimum amount of shelter.

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