Days after an earthquake destroyed Haiti’s capital, local families are still searching for news about their loved ones in the Caribbean nation.
Some of their worst fears have come true as stories of dead and dying family members buried under large debris are confirmed by surviving relatives and friends who were able to escape Tuesday’s devastation.
Delivrance Jean-Charles, pastor of La Premiere Eglise Evangelique Haitienne de Las Vegas, found out her aunt and cousin were killed when their home collapsed on top of them. Their bodies are still inside the wreckage.
"People keep moving big blocks and rubble by hand," she said. "It will take so long for them to reach all the people."
Her 25-year-old niece is still missing after she left her work office and never came home.
Family members "went in the house to check, but we don’t know if she had time to get out," Jean-Charles said. "People saw her leave work. By the time the earthquake hit, they believe she didn’t make it to the house yet. She might be dead under the rubble, but no one knows where she was exactly."
Her cousin finally got through on the phone and described the city of Port-au-Prince smelling of rotting flesh as thousands lay dead on the streets. At least 7,000 bodies were laid to rest in a mass grave this week, some identified and others were not, she added.
"We got cut off," she said. "For me it was a miracle to talk to someone in Port-au-Prince on the inside. I was feeling so down."
Jean-Charles said she checks her cell phone every five minutes to see if someone is calling to update her on the well-being of friends and family.
Her husband, Jeanot, is trying to find his nephews. His grandmother was killed in the quake.
"My entire family, most of them live in the north part," he said. "Some go to school in Port-au-Prince. For some reason they didn’t that day. If all of them were going to school they would be dead also."
Kenson Desinor of the Las Vegas Haitian Disaster Relief Community said a relative who lives outside the capital was able to call him to say that many of his friends died.
"A lot of people are starting to get information," Desinor said. "My friend had lots of nephews die, and lots of his other family members died too."
Desinor said he has tried to call his relatives who live in Haiti but cannot get through to them.
"I have heard from family, but not in the affected part," he said. "We have a lot of friends in the area, but you can reach people in other parts of the country. It’s not that easy, sometimes (phone lines) connect, but it’s hard to get connected."
Contact Kristi Jourdan at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.• How to donate to Haitian earthquake relief efforts
• Watch flights in and out of Haiti’s Port-au-Prince International Airport
All of the flights beginning with RBY or "ruby" are from Vision Airlines, the North Las Vegas-based company
• Sherm’s blog – Haiti Relief: You are the light at the end of the tunnel