US casts doubt over Haiti quake death toll
Published 01/06/2011 | 05:00
Far fewer people died or were left homeless by last year's devastating earthquake than claimed by Haitian leaders, a report commissioned by the US government has concluded.
The report estimates that the death toll was between 46,000 and 85,000, far below the Haitian government's official figure of 316,000. The report was prepared for the US Agency for International Development but has not yet been publicly released. Haitian authorities stood by the figures they released last year and said as they had not seen the US report they could not discuss it.
Based on a statistical sampling from a hard-hit section of Port-au-Prince, the report also estimates that about 895,000 people moved into temporary settlement camps around the capital after the quake and that no more than 375,000 of those are still living under tarpaulin and in tents or wooden shanties.
Those figures conflict with numbers provided by the UN International Organisation for Migration, which says the camp population reached 1.5 million after the quake and that were still 680,000 in settlement camps around the capital.
The report also says there was less rubble than previously estimated. Immediately after the earthquake, the US Army Corps of Engineers reported about 20 million cubic metres of debris but the study concluded that the total was less than half that amount.
The huge death toll and widespread destruction sparked an international aid effort for the impoverished Caribbean country, including $5.5bn (€3.8bn) pledged during a March 2010 UN donor's conference.
Many questioned the Haitian government's death toll in the days after the quake and the government never publicly revealed its methodology for arriving at its statistics.