January 25, 2010
Posted: 1610 GMT
Looking down from the live shot position an hour ago, I scanned the Champ de Mars park where thousands of Haitians are still sleeping outdoors, homeless and desperate, nearly two weeks after the earthquake hit.
They're waiting for aid, but they're also looking at an uncertain future. Thirteen days after the a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck, hundreds of thousands are homeless, jobless and in mourning for loved ones and the city the call home.
Then, I looked down: under the wreckage of an overturned car, a dog was gnawing at a dead body. Passers-by found the person yesterday when they cleared rubble over the vehicle. Just a short drive from the presidential palace, as rescue operations morph into recovery missions, this is still the reality of port-au-Prince today.
Everywhere there is death, immeasurable devastation and grief on a scale even the most hardened rescue workers have told me they haven't seen before.
When I first arrived in Haiti, I headed out onto the streets of the capital. I wanted to see the impact of the earthquake for myself. I wasn't prepared for what I saw: entire blocks flattened and mountains of concrete where neighborhoods once stood. It looked like buildings had been repeatedly hit with bunker busting bombs.
We filmed a few looters emptying a store and a shopkeeper a street away who had payed neighborhood residents with bags of food to help him haul away his most valuable stock. He'd rented a truck to transport his goods to the relative safety of a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.
Nearby, we heard reports that a French and Greek rescue team had located a survivor under the rubble of a hotel. We headed to the scene.
There'd been many false reports of people surviving the quake, so we approached the story carefully. But it quickly became apparent that something significant was unfolding a the Hotel Napoli Inn in central Port-au-Prince.
"He spoke to us. He is seeing our light," one French rescuer told me.
As we prepared to broadcast live from the scene, CNN Senior Producer Alec Miran told me: "They're saying five minutes!"
We heard cries coming from under the tin roof that had collapsed on the pile of rubble that once was a four-story hotel. Then, the gathered news crews, rescue workers and bystanders converged: a man had been pulled out alive.
Spontaneous applause and cries of "Bravo!" erupted from the crowd.
Twenty-four year old Wismond Jean-Pierre was moving his hands and legs and even managed a smile as he was stretchered into an ambulance an onto a French field hospital.
I caught up with Wismond the next day. We spoke to his brother and saw the underground shack he will return to when he is discharged from hospital. When I ask his brother Ensu what his plans are for the future, he says: "I have no hope. I want to leave."
"Where to?" I ask.
"To anywhere but here," he answers.
As for the dead bodies found in an overturned car so close to our camera position, ordinary Haitians set them on fire. They had to take matters into their own hands. No government agency had come to pick them up. No international organizations had moved the corpses.
The nameless, faceless victims of this disaster burned in full view of adults and children alike. Two of Haiti's tens of thousands of victims. The smoke eventually cleared. A few feet away, survivors were quietly standing in line for free water from a nearby building.
(Photos on the scene of Saturday's rescue a the Napoli Inn. Gabe Ramirez/Steve Turnham/CNN)
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