Thursday 18 January 2018

Screams of pain echo around the overcrowded hospital corridors

Matthew Price in Port-au-Prince

THERE is a body lying outside L'Hopital de la Paix in Port-au-Prince -- but it is the sight that awaits you inside the hospital grounds that is most alarming.

It is as if a massacre has been perpetrated here.

Dirty white sheets cover some of the dead, others lie out in the open, some with their limbs entwined with another.

Many are the bodies of adults, but here to the right, a baby on her back, her belly bloated and pronounced.

She is wearing a silvery blue top, just lying by the curb, abandoned.

A man stirs to the left. He unfurls a blanket that covers the ground and lies back down.

The living are sleeping among the dead.

Nearby, still outside, a woman lies on a hospital bed. Like many, she is too scared of aftershocks to stay inside.


That is why they are here, out under the dark, star-filled sky.

A man with wide eyes stares at a passing stranger.

A relative moves to lift the sheet covering his two broken legs, as if there was any need to emphasise the suffering here.

A woman lies on an unfolded cardboard box. There is a pool of her blood slowly collecting below her waist.

She needs help -- so does everyone. The screams and whimpers of those in pain echo down the hospital corridors. There are few doctors, little medicine.

One European woman says she has just stopped by to help. Her house, she says, was also damaged.

A doctor gives her a small vial and she works her way gingerly over the other injured people to a man she has been trying to help.

It is clear that many brought to the hospital with injuries have since died here.

One man with tears in his eyes points to his young daughter lying on the dirty tiled floor.

She has two broken legs and a large gash to her head. Her sister is already dead. "Ça va?" her father asks. "Oui," she replies softly -- but she is not okay.

There is barely anything left of this city, and so far the people are largely having to cope on their own.

Overnight a rumour went round of an approaching tsunami.

Hundreds, it seemed, rushed from the coast and they came along dark, unlit streets carrying a few possessions.


There was no tsunami, of course, but it showed how scared and alone the people felt.

Many are thought to remain trapped underneath the larger buildings that collapsed and Haiti has little in the way of heavy lifting equipment to reach them.

The leadership says tens of thousands of people have been killed. Some of the United Nations peacekeepers stationed here are among the dead.

This country, so often forgotten by the world, now needs its help more than ever.

So, too, does another little girl lying on a table at the hospital. She stirs a little, almost looks asleep.

It is not, though, a peaceful sleep -- and by dawn she could well be dead. (This article was first published on the BBC News website)

Irish Independent

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