Catholic Relief Services calls Haitian earthquake 'disaster of the century'


Catholic Relief Services Haiti country representative Karel Zelenka is calling the recent earthquake in Haiti a “disaster of the century” in a message to the organization's Baltimore headquarters on Jan 13.

“People have been screaming and praying all over the place throughout the night. It is a disaster of the century, we should be prepared for thousands and thousands of dead and injured,” said Zelenka.

Most people, said Zelenka, are “in a shock.”

Zelenka continued to say that all of the CRS staff in Haiti are accounted for, except for two. However, they are having a “terrible problem with communications – only incoming calls” as well as the possibility of soon running out of supplies, including food and water.

Zelenka also told CRS that there are “no organized rescues yet – all done with bare hands” and that the damage is “incredible all around, but our offices seem fine.”

CRS Senior Communications director Tom Price told CNA that their facilities in Haiti were “shaken, and one of the walls was damaged, but there were no injuries to people in the building.” Price confirmed that the two missing staff members have yet to be found.

When asked what CRS is planning to do in response to the crisis, Price told CNA, “we have committed an initial 5 million dollars for immediate use in relief efforts. Our agency is geared up for a major emergency response” which will include “mobilizing food and emergency capacity of people and deploying emergency shelter and hygiene kits that we already had in Haiti” with supplies coming in from the neighboring Dominican Republic.

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