Haiti Rescue Efforts a Mix of Elation and Grief

Thousands of Marines poised to assist aid relief amid record-breaking rescues.

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 15, 2010, 2:28 PM

Jan. 18, 2010— -- Like so many of the quake rescues happening in Haiti, this one was a mix if elation and grief.

The race against the clock began when Port-au-Prince resident Jean Louis Paul Jr. was digging through the rubble of his home and he heard "tapping" from the remains of the building below.

Paul asked whoever was underneath to tap three times if they heard him. They did.

Soon, a search and rescue team from Miami-Dade was on site and said they heard the voice of 14-year-old Frangina, who said she was trapped and two boys were nearby.

The rescue team worked as quickly and as safely as they could.

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After six hours, 6-year-old Nazer Erne emerged in the arms of a rescuer looking gaunt and dusty. He smiled at the paramedics who attended to him, saying he felt no pain and only suffered a chipped tooth.

Hours later, Frangina was carried out. Instead of smiling, however, she was distraught that the 5-year-old boy who was alo buried in the rubble, Kevin Orialy Monjeune, did not survive.

The rescuers did not get to savor the rescue of Nazer and Frangina. Kevin's father and stepmother, Jean Harvelt Monjeune and Marjorie Boursiquot, live in Margate, Fla., and were initially elated because they had been told Kevin was alive. The rescue team's leader immediately got on the phone to give them the heartbreaking news.

In addition, Kevin's mother also died in the building's collapse. Her body was still in the rubble.

American search and rescue teams from Florida, New York, Virginia and California have pulled 35 people from the wreckage of Haiti's earthquake, including 10 on Sunday which the Haiti Joint Information Center said is "the largest number of rescues in a single day in decades of earthquake search."

"Everybody gets pretty amped up when they have a live person in there," USAID rescuer Joe Kaleda told "Good Morning Ameria" today. "We want to get them out of there as quick as we can."

Increasingly desperate Haitians were seeing more aide work its way in from the jammed airport, from trucks in the Dominican Republic and from ships offshore.

The numbers are staggering. Roughly 200,000 people may have been killed, the European Union said, quoting Haitian officials who also said about 70,000 bodies have been recovered so far. EU officials estimated that about 250,000 were injured and 1.5 million were homeless.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he wants to beef up the international peacekeeping force in Haiti with 1,500 additional police and 2,000 troops. The U.N. already has more than 9,000 soldiers and police in Haiti.

But officials also feared that sporadic looting could become more widespread if help does not soon reach the millions of Haitians who have gone without food, water, medical care and shelter for seven days.

Haitian riot police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of looters in the city's downtown as several nearby shops burned.

"We've been ordered not to shoot at people unless completely necessary," said Pierre Roger, a Haitian police officer who spoke as yet another crowd of looters ran by. "We're too little, and these people are too desperate."

The U.S. military is trying to break through the logjam. The 82nd Airborne, which has 950 soldiers in Haiti, has orders from the Pentagon to get 3,500 deployed to the island by today to help Haitians to support the police in keeping order. Thousands of Marines are poised offshore on Navy ships, and helicopters are ferrying supplies to the island and taking patients to medical facilities offshore.