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Steve Matthews from Port-au-Prince -

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Steve Matthews from World Vision speaks with Heather Ewart from the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.

Transcript

HEATHER EWART: Welcome to the program. I'm Heather Ewart.

There's growing frustration in Haiti tonight with water, food and medical supplies yet to reach
millions of people left injured and homeless after the devastating quake.

It's been almost three days since the capital Port-au-Prince was hit by the natural disaster. The
death toll has reached an estimated 50,000 and continues to climb.

Aid agencies are backed up at the international airport and foreign rescue teams are yet to be
fully deployed.

Earlier I spoke to Steve Matthews from World Vision's emergency response team in Haiti.

And a warning, some viewers may find the following images disturbing.

Steve Matthews, what's the general mood there tonight? Is there a lot of mounting anger about aid
not getting through?

STEVE MATTHEWS: Not really. Actually there's a lot of displaced people, literally hundreds of
thousands of them in the capital city of Haiti but I wouldn't say that it's becoming an angry mob
at this point.

However I would say that if these people are left to their own devices of living in the streets for
much longer it could turn out very badly so there's some rapid intervention that's necessary.

HEATHER EWART: We are getting reports here that some people are using corpses to block roads in
protest at the slowness of emergency aid. Have you seen that? Do you see any evidence of that?

STEVE MATTHEWS: I haven't seen them blocking roads with corpses. I have seen roads blocked with a
number of things but not corpses, however if they did decide that they wanted to use dead bodies
for a road block they could do it because there are bodies lying all over the city.

It's somewhat shocking to drive around and actually see them. Often they'll just be sort of a
random body here and there or there will be a pile of them at some other place. It's reminiscent of
the tsunami. I worked in Sri Lanka for the tsunami and I'm getting the same feeling here.

HEATHER EWART: And that means of course that the stench of death must be terrible as you travel the
streets?

STEVE MATTHEWS: Yes, it's pretty bad, especially in the one area we went by today which is near the
State hospital which is in complete ruins and they're treating people outside. But there's a huge
pile of bodies around the corner from there.

Actually we were talking to the doctor at that hospital today and he said they processed 2000 dead
bodies in the last 36 hours there and those bodies are going off to a mass grave. Another report I
heard said that up to 7,000 people had been put into mass graves in the last two days.

HEATHER EWART: Are you worried about the potential for disease to break out?

STEVE MATTHEWS: We're worried about a whole bunch of things including disease but I think the
biggest worry right now is the large homeless populations that need assistance.

I mean they're OK right now because first you have the shock of what happened to you and then you
pick yourself up and you sort of figure out what you're going to do. But you cannot be left to
languish in the streets of a city that has no water, no electricity.

And you know Haiti was hanging by a thread before this earthquake so it really doesn't have much in
the way of infrastructure or support for anybody.

And with that many people living out in basically the parks, the streets, the sidewalks and
everything, you just can't leave them there for a long time. It's not going to turn out well.

HEATHER EWART: So what do you think is the top priority now in terms of emergency aid? What is
needed most?

STEVE MATTHEWS: Well I'm not an expert in all of this but my opinion would be that somehow we need
to get IDP camps set up very quickly. That means shelter, water and food.

IDP is internally displaced persons, often referred to as refugees but you're not a refugee unless
you leave your country. But these are internally displaced persons and they need temporary shelter.
They need some sort of a structured environment where they can eat and live peacefully while they
try to put back their lives together.

HEATHER EWART: Can you explain why it's taking so long for emergency aid to get through? That must
be very frustrating for you.

STEVE MATTHEWS: Well actually it's not taking long. In situations like this, this is what always
happens because there's no way around it.

When you have a city that's been destroyed you just don't all of a sudden start dropping aid on
everybody who needs it.

There are challenges, there are processes. I mean, let's look at the positives here instead of the
negatives.

We've got an air strip that actually is functional here in Haiti and planes are coming in on that
so aid is coming in very easily on to that air strip.

It's warm weather so nobody's going to freeze to death in the streets here.

And actually the fact there's not much petrol in the stations, there's very few vehicles on the
roads so that's going to open up the streets that when the aid does start to flow out there they
won't be clogged so much with traffic.

It's not really taking that long. Think about the tsunami again. That took weeks if not months to
get things settled there. It's just the nature of the beast. It does take time. It's only been two
days.

HEATHER EWART: And is there much chance left now do you think that any more bodies, any more people
alive could be pulled from the rubble?

STEVE MATTHEWS: That would be a miracle. I think that they do have people who are pulled out of
these situations a week or so later. We'd love to see that.

There's a lot of digging going on and there's not a lot of heavy machinery here so all of it's
being done by hand with axes and picks and hammers. And a lot of these buildings are made out of
concrete so they literally pancaked down each floor on top of each other.

And when we went around the city today there were a lot of people trying to chop through the
concrete looking for loved ones, everybody holding out hope that somebody might be alive under
there.

HEATHER EWART: And as you've said, it is very early days but is there any update on the estimated
death toll?

STEVE MATTHEWS: I don't have the big numbers. Like I said I talked to a doctor today that said they
processed 2,000 dead bodies in one hospital in the last couple of days.

I've been hearing numbers like 50,000 and so on. It would not surprise me at all.

This is a major, major emergency. I've seen a lot of them. This is my 33rd emergency in the last 12
years and this one's right up there with the tsunami. It's not as big as the tsunami in numbers but
the impact, the concentration of destruction on one place is certainly very much like the tsunami.

HEATHER EWART: Steve Matthews, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.

STEVE MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.