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Confirmed death toll in capital alone tops 150,000

The confirmed death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake has topped 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area alone, the communications minister said yesterday, with many more thousands dead around the country or still buried under the rubble.

Communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said the figure is based on a body count in the capital and outlying areas by CNE, a state company that has been collecting corpses and burying them in a mass grave north of Port-au-Prince.

It does not include other affected cities such as Jacmel, where thousands are believed dead, nor does it account for bodies burned by relatives.

"Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble -- 200,000, 300,000?" the minister said yesterday. "Who knows the overall death toll?"

Reports have varied on how many are known to have died, and the UN stuck with its previous total of 111,481 bodies recovered despite the higher number from Haitian officials.

According to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission, 200,000 people were killed by the quake.

Haiti's government has declared an end to searches for living people trapped under debris, and officials are shifting their focus to caring for the thousands of survivors living in squalid, makeshift camps.

Doctors Without Borders reported that some of its medical teams were beginning to see more patients with "infections or complications following basic or amateur attempts at treatment in the early days of the aftermath."

Lunie Marcelin (57) said her entire family -- including six grown children -- survived the quake, but they had no money to buy food. "The handouts will help us, but it is not enough," she said. "We need more."

Irish Independent