French doctors treating earthquake victims in Haiti say they have never seen so many people seriously injured and were having to carry out hundreds of amputations.


Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said its work was being seriously hampered by disruptions at Port-au-Prince’s airport and made an urgent call to speed up the landing of aeroplanes carrying medical supplies, after one carrying an inflatable field hospital was turned away on Saturday night.

“The logjam is a major difficulty, forcing a number of important freight flights to turn back,” MSF said.

MSF doctors “have carried out caesarians and amputations. MSF’s experienced medical staff say they have never seen so many people with such serious injuries,” the group said in a statement.

Another French aid group, Medecins du Monde, said it would have to amputate the limbs of hundreds of people who were crushed in the earthquake and its doctors had no electricity to work by.

“Unfortunately, we are carrying out an enormous number of amputations,” said one surgeon quoted in a statement by the group. He expected about “400 (amputations) over the coming days.”

“Conditions are very precarious. We have no electricity or telephone network,” he added.

MSF cited its emergency coordinator Hans van Dillen as saying that crowds arrived almost immediately when the group opened an emergency hospital at Carrefour, a poor district near the town of Leogane.

“Patients arrived on handcarts or on men’s backs. There are other hospitals in the area, but they are already unable to cope with the number of injured and have limited resources of personnel and medicines and equipment,” he said.

MSF already had 30 volunteers working in Haiti when the quake struck and has since been able to send in another 70 international workers to the capital.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that between 40,000 to 50,000 people were killed in the earthquake, the United Nations said Sunday. Hait’s government has put the figure at 75,000.