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Homeless survivors to be bused to tent cities

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The government will move 400,000 people made homeless by Haiti's epic earthquake from their squalid improvised camps throughout the shattered capital to new resettlement areas on the outskirts, a top Haitian official said Thursday.

Authorities are worried about sanitation and disease outbreaks in makeshift settlements like the one on the city's central Champs de Mars plaza, said Fritz Longchamp, chief of staff to President Rene Preval.

He said buses would start moving the displaced people within a week to 10 days, once camps are ready. Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers were leveling land in the suburb of Croix des Bouquets for a tent city, the Geneva-based intergovernmental International Organization for Migration reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, search-and-rescue teams packed their dogs and gear Thursday as the focus shifted to keeping injured survivors alive, fending off epidemics and getting help to hundreds of homeless camps.

As aftershocks still shook the city, aid workers were streaming into Haiti. The international Red Cross called it the greatest deployment of emergency responders in its 91-year history.

In brief

Legal status: Haitians living in the United States can begin applying for the chance to legally remain in the country for 18 months and get work permits. The temporary protected status program began Thursday.

Tax writeoff: Taxpayers will be able to write off charitable donations to Haiti earthquake relief efforts when they file their 2009 taxes this spring, under a bill that received final congressional approval Thursday.

Warning system: Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, say they should soon be able to alert San Francisco Bay Area residents as much as a minute before a distant quake reaches them. A major quake on the northern end of the San Andreas Fault could be detected in time to sound an alarm in San Francisco a full 60 seconds before the shaking starts. A closer quake might mean only a few seconds of warning. Whether such a system might have helped in Haiti is doubtful because the 7.0 temblor's epicenter was very close to the population center of Port-au-Prince.

Homeless survivors to be bused to tent cities 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 11:06pm]
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