Reuters blog archive
Dressed in white, shaking decorated gourd rattles and singing praises to "Olorum Papa" (God the Father), several hundred practitioners of Haiti's voodoo religion held a public ceremony on Sunday to honor those killed in the January 12 earthquake.
While several Christian ceremonies have been held to mourn the hundreds of thousands of quake dead, this was the first national commemoration by Haiti's voodoo religion, which has had to defend itself against accusations by some Evangelical preachers that it somehow caused the deadly natural disaster.
More than half of Haiti's nearly 10 million people are believed to practice voodoo, a religion brought from West Africa several centuries ago by slaves forced to work on the plantations of their white masters in what was then the rich French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue. The religion is recognized by Haiti's state and protected by the constitution.
from Photographers' Blog:
Caption for an unchosen picture:
Constitución, March 1 - An earthquake survivor carries the dog that he rescued from the ruins of his home, along a street devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.
“Take my picture with the dog,” the survivor tells me. I take it as if ordered to, and see that his face shows tremendous pain. “I lost my home, the sea took my son and my wife, and this is all that was left. I can’t leave the dog here. He was my son’s.” He pauses. “I found my wife (alive), but my boy is still missing.” Before he finishes speaking I lower my camera and cry. I walk together with him thinking what to say to lessen his suffering, but there is only silence.
from Photographers' Blog:
In the weeks since I arrived in Port-au-Prince to cover the earthquake, the streets have been cleared of debris and thousands of bodies have been removed from the rubble. But in many ways, the changes seem incremental.
In Cite Soleil a small improvised camp looks a lot the same, only it's grown in size. Thousands of families continue living under blue plastic tarps, and they receive food from aid groups fighting against time as the rainy season approaches. When I left, on March 1, the food distribution at least was much more organized, watched over by American soldiers. The food just goes to women now, in an attempt to get aid to nuclear families instead of those who shove the hardest.
from Raw Japan:
Japanese weather forecasters might have been expected to be cheery after a tsunami that hit the country's coast on Sunday proved smaller than feared.
Instead, the agency apologised for "crying wolf" when it urged some 1.5 million people to evacuate ahead of a possible major tsunami.
from The Great Debate UK:
-Professor Kees Vuik is a professor, and Mehfooz ur Rehman is a PhD candidate at Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are their own.-
The Haiti earthquake was a truly appalling tragedy and it is little wonder that the United Nations has described it as the worst humanitarian disaster it has faced in its history. The 2010 earthquake follows several earlier ones, including in 1751, 1770, 1842 and 1946, which have struck the island of Hispaniola (the tenth most populous island in the world) which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republican.
from Environment Forum:
Most people wouldn’t consider an earthquake to be an environmental issue. But while the tremors that shattered Haiti early this month have nothing to do with the island’s degradation, the extent of the suffering they unleashed is a direct result of the country’s ecological woes.
One of the healing measures suggested when Ireland's Catholic clerical sex scandals shocked the country last year was a proposal to erect a monument in Dublin to all the youths abused for decades at schools and orphanages run by religious orders that looked the other way. The idea, proposed by the government's Ryan report last May, won so much support that half a million euros were earmarked for the project. The government appointed a group to consider what the Irish Times called "the most difficult public art commission in the history of the state."
It's just become even more difficult because one group of clerical abuse victims has now said the funds should instead be donated to victims of the Haiti earthquake. The gesture would "genuinely mean more to victims of clerical abuse than a piece of stone on O’Connell Street," the victims' group Right of Place said last week at a meeting with Prime Minister Brian Cowen. O'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare, an ideal place for any memorial.
The earthquake that shattered Haiti has unleashed fears that child-eating spirits, mythological figures entrenched in Haitian culture, are prowling homeless camps in search of young prey.
The 'loup-garou,' which means 'wolf man,' is similar to werewolf legends in other parts of the world, but in Haitian folklore it is a person who is possessed by a spirit and can turn into a beast or even a dog, cat, chicken, snake or another animal to suck the blood of babies and young children.
from Global News Journal:
The story: When a massive earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, Reuters journalists raced to the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince. While Reuters has no bureau in Haiti, we have established long-time freelancers to help on our coverage and we go on assignment there regularly for major stories. Logistics post-earthquake became a challenge as commercial flights into the city were canceled and some of our journalists made their way into the Dominican Republic's Santo Domingo airport and then journeyed several hours by car to cross the border into Haiti.
The journalists: As you'd expect, our journalists reported on the devastation and witnessed the thousands of dead bodies and the suffering of many more. Behind the scenes, reporting conditions were rough as one of our reporter's flak jacket and helmet for safety were taken by border guards. Communications was spotty even with satellite phones. Our team was split for the first week between the airport and the Hotel Villa Creole. While the hotel was mostly habitable, for aftershock fears that were later realized, most visitors and journalists chose the safer quarters of sleeping in the open near the hotel's swimming pool.