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Haiti Field Notes: Counting Bodies and Blessings

IMG_9203.jpgThe sudden look in the man's eyes tells me everything.

I am interviewing him, asking about the three children whose bodies searchers are seeking in the flattened house behind me. His eyes widen. He covers his face with his shirt, and runs away.

He's just seen one of the bodies - one of his sons - being lifted by the backhoe and carried away for burial.

It is a gruesome step in Haiti's grieving. And it is being repeated tens of thousands of times in and around Port au Prince. Heavy equipment taking apart crumbled buildings, finishing the job the earthquake started. Searchers - in this case neighbours - removing the casualties that threaten to spread disease. They have already spread despair.

On the other hand, there are still events here that spread hope.

I have spoken to British and American rescue teams who have found people alive four and five days after the earthquake. A surprising number of these are in very good shape.

One of the owners of the famed hotel Montana was found standing in a narrow space, alive and quite well. A little girl was strong enough to hug her mother as soon as she was found. Four people were trapped in a space the size of a large elevator. They were dehydrated. Tired and bruised... but very much alive.

Just like Haiti itself, it seems.