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Icelandic Water Sent to Haiti

The company Icelandic Water Holding, which operates a bottling factory in Ölfus, south Iceland, has sent three tons of bottled water to the disaster area in Haiti. “We plan to send thousands of additional boxes,” the company’s owner, Jón Ólafsson, told Fréttabladid.

Icelandic water arrives in Haiti. Courtesy of ICE-SAR.

Iceland’s Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson has decided to donate ISK 7 million (USD 56,000, EUR 39,000) in emergency relief to the UN’s World Food Program in Haiti, a press release from his ministry states.

There is a severe lack of food, medicine and shelter in Haiti since the first in a series of earthquakes hit south of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on Tuesday last week.

The Icelandic search and rescue team is now working with a British team in Léogane, a city closer to the earthquake’s epicenter. It took the convoy 90 minutes to drive the 40 kilometer distance to the city, Morgunbladid reports.

Gísli Rafn Ólafsson, one of the team’s leaders, flew over the area in a helicopter yesterday, which has nearly been completely reduced to rubble.

“There were many people who obviously just live outside and just have a small tent or a cloth to shield themselves from the sun,” Ólafsson described.

He said the situation in Haiti has improved slightly. “Aid supplies are pouring in and the coordination of the work of the search and rescue teams has become very good. But of course we encounter all sorts of problems that need to be dealt with.”

Ólafsson said that the main issues that have made search and rescue difficult are a lack of equipment for transport and limited means of communication.

The Icelandic search and rescue team has not found anyone alive since their first day in Haiti, but not all hope is lost.

Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the UN, said people are still alive in the buildings which collapsed in the earthquake. It is assumed that people can live up to six days in the rubble; the sixth day is today, Fréttabladid reports.

“We are going to make sure that this city [Léogane] has been thoroughly searched by the afternoon [today]. We mostly focus on places where people can still be heard inside the rubble,” Ólafsson told Fréttabladid yesterday.

A Danish citizen was rescued from the rubble of the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince yesterday, five days after the earthquake hit, mbl.is reports.

Last night three people were saved from the Caribbean Market in the capital where the Icelandic team began its search. They were inside the market’s vegetable department and managed to send a text message to the UN.

According to visir.is, two girls, aged seven and 11, were rescued on Saturday. Fréttabladid reported that more than 70 people have been saved from the rubble since the earthquake hit on Tuesday last week. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost.

A Haitian citizen living in Iceland, Elda Thórisson Faurelien, who runs Café d’Haiti on Tryggvagata in Reykjavík with her husband, has finally received news of her family, visir.is reports.

“Arnold, Elda’s brother, his son and their two cousins are alive. One of their cousins is injured, but the others have not been hurt,” said Elda’s husband, Methúsalem Thórisson.

“Elda and I send all who have shown us compassion our best wishes and sincere thanks. Now we are hopeful about more good news,” Thórisson added.

Click here to read more about Icelandic search and rescue efforts in Haiti.

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