Twenty-eight female guards were unfairly dismissed by a security company because the client‚ Metrora.
PORT-AU-PRINCE - Rescuers pulled a dehydrated but otherwise uninjured woman from the ruins of a luxury hotel in the Haitian capital early yesterday, an event greeted with applause from onlookers witnessing rare good news in a city otherwise filled with corpses, rubble and desperation.
"It's a little miracle," her husband, Reinhard Riedl, said after hearing she was alive. "She's one tough cookie. She is indestructible."
For many, though, the five days since the magnitude-7.0 quake hit have turned into an aching wait for the food, water and medical care slowly making its way from an overwhelmed airport rife with political squabbles. And while aid is reaching the country, growing impatience among the suffering has spawned some violence.
Nobody knows how many people died. Haiti's government alone had recovered 20000 bodies - not counting those recovered by independent agencies or relatives themselves, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said.
The Pan American Health Organisation now says 50000 to 100000 people perished in the quake. Bellerive said 100000 would "seem to be the minimum".
A UN humanitarian spokesperson declared the quake the worst disaster the international organisation has ever faced, since so much government and UN capacity in the country was demolished.
In that way, Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva, it's worse than the cataclysmic Asian tsunami of 2004. "Everything is damaged".
Truckloads of corpses were being trundled to mass graves on Saturday. Search teams also recovered the body of Tunisian diplomat Hedi Annabi, the United Nations chief of mission in Haiti, and other top UN officials who were killed when their headquarters collapsed.
Experts have said rescue of people trapped beneath wreckage after three days is unlikely. But an American team pulled a woman alive from a collapsed university building where she had been trapped for 97 hours. Another crew got water to three survivors whose shouts could be heard deep in the pancaked ruins of a multistory supermarket.
Worst quake disaster
At the Hotel Montana, the son of co-owner Nadine Cardoso said he could hear her voice from the rubble, and the effort to pull her to safety began.
Twelve hours later, with more than 20 friends and relatives of the prominent community member watching early yesterday, she was lowered from a hill of debris on a stretcher.
The rescue was bittersweet for Cardoso's sister, because rescuers also told Gerthe Cardoso they had abandoned a search for her 7-year-old grandson after an aftershock closed a space where he was believed to be.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to arrive in Haiti last night to discuss aid delivery, which appeared to be speeding up.
Florence Louis, seven months pregnant with two children, was one of thousands of Haitians who gathered at a gate at the Cite Soleil slum, where UN World Food Programme workers handed out high-energy biscuits for the first time.
"It is enough because I didn't have anything at all," said Louis, 29, clutching four packets of biscuits.
The Haitian government has established 14 distribution points for food and other supplies, and US Army helicopters scouted locations for more. Aid groups opened five emergency health centers. Vital gear, such as water-purification units, was arriving from abroad. On a hillside golf course, perhaps 50000 people were sleeping in a makeshift tent city overlooking the stricken capital.
"Many people are just fleeing to the countryside, they are looking for a place to stay and for food," said Enel Legrand, a 24-year-old volunteer aid worker.
The airport congestion also touched off diplomatic rows between the US military and other donor nations. France and Brazil both lodged official complaints that the US military, in control of the international airport, had denied landing permission to relief flights from their countries.
Haitian President Rene Preva urged all to "keep our cool and coordinate and not throw accusations".
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited and pledged more American assistance.
President Barack Obama met with former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton in Washington and urged Americans to donate to Haiti relief efforts. - Sapa-AP