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Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
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SumOfAllFears Offline
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Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
No Burials for Haiti's Dead

By DIONNE SEARCEY

[Image: OB-FH264_dead1_G_20100116222834.jpg]

Most of the victims of Haiti's earthquake were buried in mass burial sites such as this one in Titanyen.
.Titanyen, Haiti—Down a rocky dirt road in a valley tucked inside green, soft-rolling hills, Haiti is disposing of its dead.

Swollen and putrid, they are stacked in piles amid rebar, doors, chairs, bed frames and trash. The cadaver of one woman hangs upside down on a pile of concrete rubble, likely the same load that killed her. Another woman's body lies bloated, directly in the path of the white garbage trucks that are filing in to dump their loads of bodies and other detritus from the quake.


Within days after Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake, Haiti's government began picking up dead bodies that litter the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, which sits about a 40 minute drive from Titanyen. On Saturday, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the government had already disposed of 20,000 bodies in mass graves.

The government is making little attempt to chronicle the victims. After dropping off his load, a driver of one of the dump trucks said there was no attempt to identify the bodies.

"We just collect them like this," he said, pointing to the back of his truck.

The disposal of the bodies will complicate matters for Haitians seeking news about loved ones. And it may make an exact final tally of the dead more difficult. But government officials say the bodies could spread disease.

"Our first concern has to be the living and not the dead," said Gabriel Verret, an economic adviser to the president. "We don't have a hangar with refrigeration with capacity to hold the bodies."

Many Haitians backed the government decision. One reason: the stench of decomposing corpses fills many streets in the capital.

“It's very grim. It's very sad. But in this situation that's the best that can be done."

"The number of bodies is so high, it's beyond the government's capacity to deal with identifying cases individually," said Miguel Lebun, 49. "It's air pollution," he said. "There is no better choice but to do this."

Mr. Lebun's destroyed home is across the street from a cemetery where officials are dumping bodies. Machinery had helped dig a pit directly in front of powder blue and turquoise tombstones erected long ago. Though Titanyen is one of the largest mass gravesites, there are many smaller ones across the city dug into hillsides and inside such cemeteries.

A small yellow bulldozer is all that marks the entrance to the Titanyen mass grave just over the hill from a blue inlet along the coast. Some cadavers didn't make it all the way there. The winding road from Port-au-Prince was dotted with mini open graves, some next to burning piles of trash. At one site, members of the Centre National des Equipment, Haiti's version of a public works department, workers blocked a car of reporters from entering.

The mass grave at Titanyen has been a graveyard for years. Just across a shrubby stretch of land, tidy white crosses marked the graves of unclaimed bodies from Port-au-Prince hospitals.

[Image: OB-FH265_dead2_F_20100116224531.jpg]

A graveyard for decades, bodies from death squad killings would find their final resting place here, outside of Port-au-Prince.
.Late Saturday afternoon, as the sun was setting, a small band of missionaries stopped by the Titanyen site to pay their final respects to the people they had spent the last four days digging out in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince. The men pulled off at the mass grave on their way home in the outskirts of Titanyen and stood silently as trucks dumped their loads around them.

Steve Yoder, who is an administrator at the Menonite mission called Christian Aid Ministries in Titanyen, choked back tears as he viewed the heaps of bodies.

"This is heart-breaking," he said. "It's very grim. It's very sad. But in this situation that's the best that can be done."

— José de Córdoba in Port-au-Prince contributed to this article.
01-17-2010 12:07 PM
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SumOfAllFears Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
Haitians Flee Ruined Capital for Shelter in Countryside

By KEVIN NOBLET and DIONNE SEARCEY

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—Haitians by the thousands jammed into rickety wooden buses and open trucks to escape the capital on Saturday, days after a killer earthquake leveled much of the city and turned it into an epicenter of despair.

Armed with little more than hope and the clothes on their back, they headed for the countryside, hoping to leave behind the persistent tremors and the corpse-littered wreckage of the capital.


Neighbors dig through rubble searching for earthquake survivors at Carrefour Feuilles University, Haiti.

In the scramble to flee, Lucien St. Cyr and his little boy Jean Edy lucked out. Both jammed into a red open pickup with about 40 others who screamed and shoved in a battle over the available space. The passengers were hoping to make it to Jacmel, on the southern coast of Haiti some 50 miles away. The road was ruined, they were told, so the bus would take them about half-way. They then would have to walk over a broken section of road to catch another bus.

Mr. St. Cyr hoped to find shelter with a friend there. "We don't know what to expect there, but we have nothing here. We have to leave," he said. Their house fell in the quake, destroying all their possessions.

Roberthe Pierre and his huge tribe of relatives, meanwhile, were left in the rank dust. Mr. Pierre sadly watched that group depart. Tall and thin, he stood among 11 relatives, while another 12 sat on the ground nearby. Hundreds of others milled around the intersection, one of many in the capital where buses and pick-ups were being boarded.

A different kind of exodus was taking place at the city's main airport, where scores of Haitians, foreigners and expatriates waited in the hopes of being able to escape the stricken country. How they would leave with no civilian flights was unclear. Military aircraft sat on the tarmac, and embassy officials from various nations recorded passport numbers of hopeful passengers.

"We were just told to get in line," said Dan Gietz, a missionary from Tonawanda, N.Y., who arrived the day before the quake to help out at an orphanage and was scrambling to get his wife and son home. His taxi driver had sweet-talked airport guards into letting them inside.


Dominic Nahr for The Wall Street Journal

People ran after a bus arriving at a station in Port-au-Prince Saturday, hoping to catch a ride out of town.

One group of 57 U.S. women missionaries for a Westerville, Ohio-based Christian group called Lifeline stood in the sun on the tarmac, just outside the terminal building, hoping to be evacuated. They had arrived a week ago, before the quake, to help at their organization's center in the provincial town of Grand Goave, about 40 miles southwest of the capital. They had no idea whether they would get a flight home.

Grand Goave's hospital and many homes were shattered in the quake, so medical operations were moved to the mission. "They're very low on supplies," said Chelsey Crabtree of Springfield, Ohio.

Anyone here who could seemed eager to escape the capital city – which seemed to have borne the brunt of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck on Tuesday, killing tens of thousands.

Short on everything from medical supplies to water, the city resembled a giant morgue. Many of the bodies seemed to have been collected from the main streets on Saturday, but smell of death remained thick on lots of side streets, and many rotting corpses remain pinned under wreckage and could not be retrieved.

At the bus station, hundreds of people crowded any type of vehicle that backed in. Open-air mini buses and open-bed trucks were swarmed upon arrival with passengers literally stacked on top each other, some toting bags and in one case a chicken.

People who jumped into one red truck first hoisted others by their arms while friends on the ground shoved them from the other end. Some shouted angrily at a woman whose bag was taking up space they thought could be used for an additional passenger. She placed it on her lap and someone else immediately hopped aboard.

Among the 22 people in Mr. Pierre's group, there were perhaps eight suitcases. Mr. Pierre himself had only his T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. "I lost everything else," he said. Among the family, they had six houses in the devastated Delmas neighborhood of the capital. All six fell, they explained. Several other relatives were killed – no one knew exactly how many.

There were six small children in the group including girls of one and two years. Mr. Pierre said they lacked the money for the best rides, and were hoping someone would offer a cheaper fare. "We'll go by foot if we have to," he said.

His family had survived the last three harrowing days virtually on air and little scraps they could find for the children. Like many others, they slept in the streets at night, fearful that the tremors would bring a roof or awning down upon them.

At the bus station, drivers had jacked up the price of tickets. People such as William Toussaint, a 24-year-old agronomy student, let others with more money go ahead. He had to take three buses to get to Jacmal to check on his brother and sister and needed to preserve cash

Mr. Toussaint was picking up the pieces of his own crumbled home on Friday morning when a friend arrived with news that Mr. Toussaint's brother and sister were buried under their school in Jacmal, but were still alive. He dropped what he was doing and rushed to the bus station, where he still was 24 hours later.

"They were alive yesterday," he said of his siblings. But what he would find upon arrival was unclear.
01-17-2010 12:11 PM
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RobertN Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
Yet, you and Rush say we shouldn't do anything to help these people.
01-17-2010 02:58 PM
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SumOfAllFears Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
(01-17-2010 02:58 PM)RobertN Wrote:  Yet, you and Rush say we shouldn't do anything to help these people.

You come in second in intelligence to a box of rocks.
01-17-2010 05:02 PM
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SouthGAEagle Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
(01-17-2010 02:58 PM)RobertN Wrote:  Yet, you and Rush say we shouldn't do anything to help these people.

Thank you for repeating the DNC talking points.

Of course I never told anyone not to donate to a charitable cause by Rush Limbaugh
(This post was last modified: 01-17-2010 05:12 PM by SouthGAEagle.)
01-17-2010 05:10 PM
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RobertN Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
(01-17-2010 05:10 PM)SouthGAEagle Wrote:  
(01-17-2010 02:58 PM)RobertN Wrote:  Yet, you and Rush say we shouldn't do anything to help these people.

Thank you for repeating the DNC talking points.

Of course I never told anyone not to donate to a charitable cause by Rush Limbaugh
It may be a DNC talking point but it is also the truth. I really don't care what the big fat idiot says now in order to try and make himself not look like the uncaring moron and liar he is(he has a LOT of work to make that happen).
01-17-2010 06:56 PM
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Motown Bronco Offline
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RE: Mass Graves: No Burials for Haiti's Dead
So let's see...

1. Natural disaster occurs
2. The usual suspects emerge: Limbaugh says some heartless comment, Pat Robertson said they were being punished for some deal with the Devil, Danny Glover said it was a response to our inaction at the Global Warming summit, etc.
3. Media predictably laps it up in order to rile up its readership (resulting in more web hits, viewers, posts in their lunatic comments sections, etc.)
4. Partisan adversaries and commentators hold up these scattered, non-mainstream quotes as proof to whoever is listening how "crazy" the "other side" is (and in turn try to make themselves look superior).

Don't tell me anyone is particularly surprised by this. This is Pavlov dog type stuff, gentlemen. Comes with the territory.
(This post was last modified: 01-17-2010 07:15 PM by Motown Bronco.)
01-17-2010 07:13 PM
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