Haitians Flee Port-Au-Prince's Destruction
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. Im Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And Im Steve Inskeep. Were still trying to learn more about the latest earthquake in Haiti. The U.S. Geological Survey says the preliminary reading is a magnitude of 6.0, which is weaker than the disastrous quake of last week, but still strong. And well get you more information about the damage, if any, from that quake, as we learn it.
Even as people respond to that many Haitians are thinking about leaving their country. NPRs Jason Beaubien reports from Port-au-Prince.
(Soundbite of horn honking.
JASON BEAUBIEN: Buses departing the capital for the north of the country leave from the station in the slum of Cite Soleil. Calling it a bus station is an overstatement. Its simply a place where old American school buses and flatbed trucks gather passengers on the street and then roll out of town. The area is always chaotic, but its been even busier lately as desperate residents try to leave the severely damaged city.
Ms. JUANITA LORA LI(ph): (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: Its not possible to live in Port-au-Prince right now, says Juanita Lora Li, because we don't have a house. Its just two sheets that we put up to sleep under and to cover our stuff. I don't know when Im going to come back. Shes trying to get to Cape Haitian with her sister and three children.
(Soundbite of crowd)
The old school buses that provide long haul transportation in Haiti are painted in bright colors, music blares inside and young men pile luggage into teetering pyramids on the roofs. Drivers say theyre departing the city with their buses completely packed and coming back with them almost empty.
Jean Claude Lepreatans(ph) hustling his family of nine towards a bus.
Mr. JEAN CLAUDE LEPREATAN: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: Our opinion is that the country is stuck right now, Lepreatan says. Families are just trying to move to another city.
Haitian officials estimate that the tembler killed at least 200,000 people and has left one and a half million displaced. Much of downtown Port-au-Prince was completely destroyed and neighborhoods throughout the city are flattened. People are also trying to get out at the airport. Huge crowds form whenever theres a flight or the potential for a flight or a rumor of a flight.
Outside the U.S. embassy, yesterday, hundreds of Haitians were trying to get visas to the states. Troops from the 882nd Airborne herded people into long lines in the midday sun. There were even reports that some people were trying to leave in boats.
(Soundbite of horns honking)
Back at the bus depot in Cite Soleil, Marta Josef(ph) is standing forlornly at the curb along with her seven-year-old niece. Two suitcases and several bundles wrapped in bed sheets are at her feet. Theyre trying to get to Cape Haitian, too. The bus fare is roughly 20 U.S. dollars per person, which Josef doesnt have.
Ms. MARTA JOSEF: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: I don't have the money to go, she says. Her house collapsed in the quake. She lost most of her belongings, including her cash. Shes been sleeping outside for the past week. And she says she hasnt seen any relief distributions. Josef says she can't survive in Port-au-Prince, and shes hoping one of the bus drivers will let her and her niece ride for free.
Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.
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