A 6.1 aftershock struck the Caribbean island at 6 am yesterday (Wednesday), causing panic among its already shell-shocked people and thousands of orphaned children.
The aftershock was west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, but no damage was reported in the earthquake ravaged city.
Some buildings already weakened by last week's quake collapsed and wails of terror filled the air as frightened survivors poured out of unstable buildings, a BBC correspondent in the region said.The aftershock lasted about eight seconds and sent people screaming from shelters. One woman with a heart condition died from fright. Others simply slept through it. Experts warned of possible stronger aftershocks to come as the earth adjusted to new stresses caused by the original quake. "Sometimes [they] die out very quickly. In other cases they can go on for weeks, or if we're really unlucky it could go on for months," Bruce Pressgrave, of the US Geological Survey, told Associated Press news agency
About 200,000 people died in last Tuesday's quake and another 1.5 million were made homeless. And in spite of international aid efforts, supplies have been slow to reach survivors and looting and unrest has broken out.
Aid agencies, meanwhile have called for an urgent freeze on all adoptions from the island, saying that taking children out of the country risked causing long-term damage to already vulnerable children.Thirteen agencies working together in the UK as the Disasters Emergency Committee said last night that many children apparently orphaned by the quake will have surviving relatives and that the focus now should be on reuniting families. SOS Children and the United Nations Children’s Fund warned against hasty plans for large-scale adoption.
Earlier this week Miami's Catholic church announced plans to fly hundreds of children to a new life in the US in a plan like that in the 1960s, which saw hundreds of children taken out of Communist Cuba to live in the US."The vast majority of the children currently on their own still have family members alive who will be desperate to be reunited with them and will be able to care for them with the right support,” said Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children's chief executive.
“Taking children out of the country would permanently separate thousands of children from their families – a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering and inflict long-term damage on their chances of recovery," she told Associated Press.World Vision's chief executive, Justin Byworth, said a wave of adoptions could leave children vulnerable to trafficking and abuse.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children