Hundreds gather in Port-au-Prince to bury archbishop killed in quake
Saturday, January 23, 2010; 6:45 PM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- Hundreds of the capital's Catholic faithful gathered Saturday to bury Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, killed with scores of parishioners when the Jan. 12 earthquake broke apart the cathedral where he worked and prayed.
For the service, wooden pews from the ruined church, where countless bodies remain entombed beneath pale pink rubble and shattered stained glass, were set out in the broad courtyard in front of the cathedral.
Amid blooming oleander bushes and the occasional pop of gunfire from the volatile business district nearby, politicians and diplomats, seminarians and novices prayed, sang and remembered Miot and Bishop Charles Benoit, the city's vicar general, who was also crushed to death in the quake. His body lay in a white casket, topped with a spray of bright flowers, next to the one holding the archbishop.
"If Monsignor Miot were alive, he would tell us to have courage, to be strong in starting over," said Marie-Andre Baril, 53, a bank teller whose home was destroyed in the quake.
"With my faith, I hope to have what he would want us to have. I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here." The devout Catholic population of this city has lost the head of its church, a vivid example of one of the quake's cruelest outcomes. Many of those killed were the very people who, in times of tragedy, would be sought out for solace and explanation.
The Haitian government Saturday placed the death toll from the 7.0-magnitude quake at 111,000 and rising, the vast majority of the victims from the capital, where up to a third of the country's people once lived.
And Saturday, a day after the government called off the search for survivors, another was found.
Greek TV journalists covering the looting in the city's commercial district heard from the crowd that there was someone calling out from the Napoli Hotel restaurant. The journalists heard him too and called the Greek search and rescue team.
Three members of the team showed up.
"We had to go through five lots of looters. There were guns firing off and people with knives . . . It was crazy wild," said Carmen Michalska, a Scottish member of team. "We called in for help but most of the teams are packing up to go to the airport."
Rescuers found a Haitian man in his mid-20s in what appeared to be a hair salon."There wasn't any food in there, it's shampoo and hair dye. He was dydrated but smiling," Michalska said. He told rescuers there were at least five others in hotel but there were no other signs of life.
The United Nations and other international agencies say 609,000 Haitians have been displaced by the quake and remain without adequate shelter. That figure has declined in recent days, with more than 100,000 Haitians having left the capital to stay with family in the provinces.