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Charities have got to work better together -- president

INTERNATIONAL charities pouring aid into Haiti must work better together to reach and help survivors of the catastrophic earthquake, President Rene Preval said last night.

Mr Preval also said Haiti would indefinitely postpone parliamentary elections on February 28 and that he would not seek to stay in office after his term expires in February 2011.

This decision means his government will have just over one year to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged nation before handing on the task to new leadership.

Aid groups and troops from around the world have been struggling to distribute food, water and medical care to an estimated three million Haitians injured or left homeless in the magnitude-7.0 earthquake which killed up to 200,000 people.

"I am not in a position to criticise anybody, not in the least people who have come here to help me," Mr Preval said. "What I am staying is what everybody is saying, that we need better coordination."

Meanwhile the maternity ward of Port-au-Prince general hospital is now a tent pitched over the side of a road.


There, in the stifling heat above the puddles that collect against the pavement, doctors have presided over some miraculous deliveries.

Staff are reporting extraordinary tales of heavily pregnant women pulled from the rubble to deliver children, and of births by women who had just had their legs or arms amputated.

Jane Carricieux (25) is expecting her third child. She stares listlessly at the tent wall: "My husband is dead. He is crushed beneath the rubble of my house. My other children are okay, but we are living on the streets. I don't know what I'm going to do."

Across town, in another tent beside a broken-down school bus, Sabine Dasney (21) of the district of Delmas, sat nursing her daughter Ormela. Sabine had given birth to her on Monday morning and took her back to her tent that afternoon.

Ormela was born at Maternite de Petionville, a small hospital on the side of a hill above Port-au-Prince, run by an indomitable woman called Elza Dumornay. "We had to ask them to leave," said Ms Dumornay (52). "We needed the bed."

Alongside natural deliveries and Caesarean sections, her nine-bed ward has hosted amputations and orthopaedic surgeries. But the hospital ran out of food last weekend.

"What can we do?" said Ms Dumornay.Her own house has fallen down too; she is sleeping on the street with her four children. (©The Times, London)

Irish Independent