Devastation Lies Beyond Haiti's Capital In the Haitian city of Leogane, an estimated 80 percent of the structures collapsed in the earthquake. By the time the first responders arrived over the weekend, they failed to rescue anyone from the rubble.

Devastation Lies Beyond Haiti's Capital

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

Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, is filling up with troops, doctors and other aid workers. The bottleneck at the airport has eased. But even so, the aid effort faces enormous challenges delivering food, water and shelter to throngs of desperate people. And while we've been hearing about the situation in Port-au-Prince since last week, other cities in Haiti have also been devastated.

NPR's Jackie Northam traveled with a search-and-rescue team to one of them.

(Soundbite of vehicle)

JACKIE NORTHAM: Much of the road to the city of Leogane, about 40 miles due west of Port-au-Prince, is surprisingly smooth, given the ferocity of the earthquake. But the closer you get to Leogane, the greater the devastation. The city is very near the quake's epicenter. And as you drive into Leogane, it seems every house, every building, either collapsed or is teetering at a dangerous angle. The people in this city of 160,000, seem almost in shock. They stand in groups and gaze at the destruction. The parks in Leogane are starting to fill with makeshift tents.

Unidentified Group: (Foreign language spoken)

NORTHAM: Members of a joint British and Icelandic search-and-rescue team quickly set up a command center in the middle of an empty field.

Unidentified Man #1: We're saving (unintelligible), over.

Unidentified Man #2: No, this is just (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man #1: Your signal loud and clear.

NORTHAM: This is the first search-and-rescue team to arrive in Leogane, about five days after the earthquake. A reconnaissance team assessed that 80 percent of the city was destroyed. This team must quickly get the lay of the land � the maps don't include many of the smaller streets. And they need to prioritize what buildings to go to first. They rely on the local people for information.

Unidentified Man #3: There are a couple of dead bodies (unintelligible).

Mr. MAGNUS HAKONARSON (Rescue Worker): Do you know the last time anyone heard from somebody inside the building?

Mr. HAKONARSON: No, there is no - there is no survivor. I don't think they survived. Of course, people say, there's a survivor inside of it.

NORTHAM: This young fellow tells an Icelandic rescue worker, Magnus Hakonarson, what he probably doesn't want to hear.

Unidentified Man #3: If you're looking for survivor, I don't think you're going to find a survivor around here. I don't really think so, they're all dead. I think you're a little bit late.

Mr. HAKONARSON: Yes, we are late here.

NORTHAM: But at another nearby school, there is a whisper of hope. Forty to 50 children were in the school when its roof collapsed. Up to a dozen were pulled out alive several days ago. But there could be an air pocket. The kids might not have food or water, but some could still be alive. Members of the Icelandic search-and-rescue team walk over the roof � now at ground level and set up sensitive listening devices, then ask a local man to yell out to the children through a large hole in the roof.

Unidentified Man #4: (Foreign language spoken)

NORTHAM: The listening devices are so sensitive, they can pick up the sound of faint scratching if it's quiet. That's difficult in this area.

Unidentified Man #5: (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Man #6: (Foreign language spoken)

NORTHAM: Rescue workers still can't make out if anyone is alive. But with up to 35 children under the rubble, they're not stopping.

(Soundbite of jackhammer)

NORTHAM: Jackhammers pound large holes into the roof and then cameras are inserted. It's a long process. The locals watch intently and stay out of the way.

(Soundbite of weeping)

NORTHAM: Among them, is an aunt of one of the children under the roof, a 10-year-old named Brittany. She watches as the rescue workers bring in a search dog.

(Soundbite of dog barking)

NORTHAM: But the dog shows no sign it's detected a living being under the rubble. A notice is spray-painted on the wall outside the former school, saying the building was searched and that no survivors were found. The Icelandic and British rescue team were due to search Leogane for up to three days, but pull out after the first. It's clear they are too late to pull any survivors from the rubble here, and they are needed elsewhere.

Jackie Northam, NPR News.

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