Haitians remember 2010 quake, seek way out of "hell"

Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:12pm GMT

By Allyn Gaestel and Tom Brown

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haitians, many dressed in white in mourning, honoured victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a sombre anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty.

Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries.

Many mourners stretched out their arms, calling out aloud the names of dead loved ones and imploring God's help.

Other services were held in the ravaged coastal city, which is still filled with rubble and ruins from the massive quake that struck the poor Caribbean nation at 4:53 p.m. a year ago, killing around a quarter of a million people.

Despite an outpouring of solidarity for Haiti from around the world, billions of dollars of aid pledges and a huge ongoing humanitarian operation, ordinary Haitians say they are still waiting to see a positive impact in the Western Hemisphere's poorest state.

"If the reconstruction were serious, the mass would be happening inside the rebuilt church," Carla Fleuriven, a 19-year-old mother of three dressed in a white skirt and blouse, told Reuters outside the Cathedral.

On January 12 last year, she saw the Cathedral collapse, along with her home, and she now lives in a makeshift shelter, one of more than 800,000 homeless quake survivors who are still camped out in tents and tarpaulins 12 months after the disaster.

"I pray that God will provide us with food and shelter ... I hope our nightmare is over forever," said another woman, Maryse Edme, 40, also dressed in white.   Continued...

<p>Haitians mourn the death of their relatives during a ceremony to remember the victims of the January 2010 earthquake in Titanyen January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz</p>
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