I read this today from the AP. Speechless.
Trapped beneath the remains of her home, a nine-year-old girl could be heard begging for rescue yesterday as neighbours clawed at sand and debris with their bare hands.
It had been two days since the earthquake collapsed the cinderblock home in Port-au-Prince, trapping Haryssa Keem Clerge inside the basement. Friends and neighbours braved aftershocks to climb over the rubble, one of hundreds of toppled structures teetering on the side of a ravine.
The city is full of people desperate for more help than neighbours can muster, and it never came for Haryssa.
Just hours after her screams renewed the hopes of rescuers yesterday, her lifeless body was finally pulled from the mass of concrete and twisted metal. It was wrapped in a green bath towel and placed in a drawer. There was nowhere to take it, so the body was then left on the bonnet of a battered Isuzu Trooper.
"There are no police, no anybody," said Haryssa's despairing godmother, Kettely Clerge. Neighbours had to hold her back as she wailed: "I want to see her."
A day earlier, the child's mother, Lauranie Jean, was pulled from the rubble of the house. She lay moaning in a tent as volunteers rubbed ointment into her wounds.
The family has now taken refuge in a dirt playground, one of hundreds of open spaces across Port-au-Prince that are filled each night by people trying to avoid aftershocks.
Haitians living in the capital's growing tent cities say they do not expect help to come soon. "People are waiting for someone to take care of them," said Michel Reau, 27, who brought his wife and infant child to the park after their home collapsed. "We are out of food. We are out of water." Haryssa's godmother had doted on her, according to a neighbour, Bellefleur Jean Heber. She raised her as though she were her own daughter and walked her to school in their Petionville district every day.
As word spread yesterday that the child was still alive, more than a dozen people came to help. Inside the cramped basement, Haryssa was trapped by a partially collapsed roof. Rescuers got close enough to pass her water but they could not get food to her before she died. Heber said nobody expected help from the authorities. "Haiti is an abandoned country," he said. "People are relying on themselves."
Across Port-au-Prince, similar tragedies unfolded yesterday. At the St Gerard school, Cindy Terasme broke into sobs when she caught sight of the feet of her 14-year-old brother, Jean Gaelle Dersmorne, protruding from the rubble. The child was dead. So was another schoolgirl known only as Ruth, whose dust-covered legs dangled lifelessly from a collapsed wall.
There was at least one encouraging tale. Spanish rescuers pulled a two-year-old boy from a collapsed home last night. Dirty and teary-eyed, Redjeson Hausteen Claude appeared to smile at his ecstatic mother as he was carried from the rubble.
An unknown number of people remain buried after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit on Tuesday, collapsing houses, office buildings and a children's hospital. Haitians used sledgehammers and their bare hands to search for survivors or bodies, piling the dead up at roadsides across the city.
Associated Press, guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 January 2010 12.21 GMT