Haiti Sadness and Joy: 70,000 Bodies Collected -- but a Record 70+ Rescues

Searchers have pulled unprecedented number of survivors from rubble, U.N. says.

ByABC News
January 15, 2010, 2:28 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 17, 2010— -- International search-and-rescue teams have pulled more than 70 people from the rubble of Haiti's earthquake -- a record for urban search-and-rescue missions following such a disaster, the U.N. claimed.

But though limited food, water and medical supplies finally are reaching victims in desperate need, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told ABC News that at least 70,000 dead bodies have been collected.

Official and unofficial estimates of the death toll have ranged up to 200,000.

"I think the international community is looking at those figures, and I think that's a start point," said U.S. Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, the man in charge of military relief efforts in Haiti, on ABC News' "This Week."

"We are going to have to be prepared for the worst," he said.

In addition to bodies collected by the Haitian government, it is believed many were disposed of privately and thousands more remain uncollected.

At least 16 Americans were known to be among the massive death toll, the State Department reported Sunday afternoon.

Aid continues to move slowly, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"Significant amounts of emergency aid have arrived in quake-struck Port-au-Prince," the ICRC wrote in a statement. "The challenge now is to get it to survivors as quickly as possible. Further assessments confirm that the damage is widespread and immense. Very few neighbourhoods have been spared, while local infrastructure and services have been wiped out."

Despite limited relief supplies flowing into the country, many Haitians still are living in the streets without access to food and water.

The smell of death hangs over Port-au-Prince.

"There are bloated, decomposing bodies in the streets, many leaking yellow liquid," said Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman who has visited most areas of city. "Motorcycles and cars drive around them, and no one looks. Young men remove blocks of cement from collapsed buildings. They are not looking for people, but for scrap metal. It seems they are now focused only on their own survival."

And yet, more than five days after Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake, people still are being rescued from the debris -- at least eight people today.