Transcript of first-hand account from The Globe and Mail's Les Perreaux:
This is Jill Mahoney from theglobeandmail.com. I have on the line The Globe and Mail's Les Perreaux, who is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Les, can you tell us what you're seeing down there?
"On the outskirts of the city centre, you know, the occasional building that's knocked down. There's not a lot of damage. But then as you go in, more and more buildings down. And then, finally, when you get downtown, you see bodies and there literally are bodies everywhere. I saw one crew attempting to pick some up, but basically it seems like people are being left where they died."
And what are people telling you? How are they doing?
"You instantly run across stories. We gave a ride in to a young man who was returning from the Dominican Republic just to find out if his mother's still alive. She lives in a particularly devastated part of the city, and so our ride in he was quite preoccupied with thoughts of what's happened to his mother. People are really trying to just survive, I think. You see people scavenging shattered homes for basic supplies. There are about half a dozen children laying on cardboard sheets getting various treatments. The hospital is one of the heavily damaged buildings here along with I think we saw several government ministries that are flattened. The main cathedral downtown, these are probably all images Canadians are starting to see, but to see it in person, it leaves quite an impression to see how these big institutions of Haitian society are flat on the ground."
Do people have supplies, medical supplies, food and water? Is anything reaching people yet, from what you can tell?
"It's a bit hard to tell at this stage. You do see people walking around with bottles of water. There are line-ups for gasoline, but there's still gasoline being sold. In this downtown area, anyways, I don't get the impression that supplies have totally run out yet but you can see that if help doesn't get in quickly, this could turn rather fast because I'm sure scavenging only takes you so far before you needed some heavy-hitting supplies."
And where are people sleeping or staying, those whose houses have been destroyed? Do you have a sense or are they just wandering around?
"There appear to be thousands of people who are bedding down in the streets, in parks. We found one makeshift refugee camp where people were literally camping among the vehicles in a used-car lot. The downtown, the square in front of the presidential palace has become another place where people are sleeping, but I think it's basically anywhere and everywhere. I'm standing on a corner right now where I look across and in the middle of the street, people have sheets and mats laid out and they're just sort of squatting on the street for the moment, right in the middle of the street, as they try to figure out what their next move is."
Is it safe there? Do you have a sense that the people feel safe?
"Again, a hard thing to gauge on just the early impressions, but people are pretty calm at the moment. Didn't get a sense of a lot of hostility. Also didn't get a sense, though, that there's many police or military people on the street maintaining order. People are going about their business in a relatively calm fashion from what I could see this morning. I don't know how that changes at night and I don't know how it changes too when you get into the poorer neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince. The area we've been through and are in, there are some wealthier parts and some poorer parts, but it's not the infamous slums that people have heard about."