Haiti quake toll rises as gangs hamper aid efforts

The death toll in the major earthquake that struck Haiti has risen to 2,207, said authorities as attacks on aid convoys have complicated efforts to bring relief to survivors.

“New bodies have been found in the south,” a statement from the country’s civil protection office said, adding that 344 people remain missing and 12,268 have been listed as injured. The previously reported toll was 2,189 dead.

Search-and-rescue workers are continuing to pick through the jumbled mounds of debris left by the powerful 7.2-magnitude quake, but hopes of finding survivors were fading by the hour.

According to Haitian authorities, 600,000 people were directly affected by the disaster and are in need pf urgent humanitarian assistance.

However, efforts to deliver food, water and medical supplies to victims of the quake have been complicated not just by road and bridge damage but by attacks on aid convoys by so far unidentified gangs.

“We have a security problem that is becoming more and more serious,” said director of Haiti’s civil protection agency, Jerry Chandler.

From early June, a 2km stretch of highway running to the southwest peninsula from Port-au-Prince has been unsafe to travel, amid persistent gang violence in a desperately poor neighbourhood of the capital.

“We’re literally facing a problem of banditry, and we’re working flat out with the police, who are sending reinforcements to the south,” said Chandler.

Some of the worst destruction was in hard-to-reach rural areas, so the Haitian authorities have been using a United Nations helicopter and eight US aircraft to deliver aid.

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