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First-hand accounts from our correspondents in Port-au-Prince

FRANCE 24's special correspondents reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, give eyewitness accounts of the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck the poverty-stricken country on January 12.

January 23: Haitians are trying to regain a semblance of normality, as markets reopen and rubble begins to be cleared. While the government has officially ended the rescue phase to focus on rebuilding the country, the enormity of the task that lies ahead is apparent.
FRANCE 24 correspondent Nathan King filed this report from the Haitian capital at 6pm Paris time (GMT + 1). 

“It’s a new normal. If normal means every other building you pass on the street is either fallen apart or about to fall apart, then that’s the new normal. If normal means that every time you drive around the corner you have to drive under electrical cables, that’s the new normal. If you see bodies occasionally burnt on the side of the street, that’s the new normal.


“But still Haitians in their resilience, go about their business. Markets are open. People are moving about trying to salvage what they can from the wreckage, make businesses out of salvaging what they can. You see bananas and mangos being sold on the street, but still the need is great for the 600,000 that are out in the streets. They are making the best out of what they have, which still is not a lot.

“[The Haitian government] said there’s no more rescue operations, although they haven’t stopped people from looking for survivors. A couple of teams are still doing that. Now we are basically on the recovery effort which is going to be huge. People are thinking maybe in terms of weeks or months. It looks like years amount of work here. Diggers are pulling out rubble; they are pulling down buildings that are unsafe.

“Haitians are forming their own committees in their own neighbourhood, and the UN is coming in to help Haitians help themselves. They are paying people five dollars a day to start cleaning up the streets as. I’ve seen a lot of these teams appear. People need the work here.

“But there’s so much work to do, and the focus is going to be on cleaning everything. What they know is they can’t rebuild the city the same way. Look at the donor’s conference coming up at the end of the month for clues about how Port-au-Prince and the rest of Haiti are going to look in the future.”

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