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Thousands of Haitians flee ruins of capital city

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By The Staff

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitians are fleeing their quake-ravaged capital by the hundreds of thousands, aid officials said Friday, as their government promised to help nearly a half-million more move from squalid camps on curbsides and vacant lots into safer, cleaner tent cities.

Aid officials said some 200,000 people have crammed into buses, nearly swamped ferries and set out even on foot to escape the ruined capital. For those who stay, foreign engineers have started leveling land on the fringes of the city for tent cities, supposedly temporary, that are meant to house 400,000 people.

The goal is to halt the spread of disease at hundreds of impromptu settlements that have no water and no place for sewage. Homeless families have erected tarps and tents, cardboard and scrap as shelter from the sun, but they will be useless once the summer rainy season hits.

The new camps "are going to be going to places where they will have at least some adequate facilities," Fritz Longchamp, chief of staff to President Rene Preval, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Rescue crews began abandoning hope of finding the final survivors of the magnitude-7.0 quake on Jan. 12. Thursday apparently was the first day since the earthquake that saw no successful rescues from the rubble.


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