Oxygen plant among earthquake-damaged buildings in Haiti

Les Cayes, Aug 20 (AP):
As if Haiti’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake, a tropical storm and the coronavirus pandemic weren’t enough, the temblor damaged the only medical oxygen plant in the southern part of the country. The building that housed the oxygen concentrator machines that the region depended on partially collapsed, and the machines were upended. The Etheuss company is run by the a family famous for their vetiver perfume oils plant in the city of Les Cayes, one of the areas hardest hit by Saturday’s earthquake. We are trying to get the oxygen production started again. That is our responsibility, because many people depend on it, said Kurtch Jeune, one of the brothers who run the plant, as he showed reporters through the damaged, rubble-strewn plants.
The quake left concrete pillars and roofs at the facility leaning, and cement block rubble battered the tanks, electrical system and the delicate web of copper tubing that fills vital oxygen plants. The oxygen generators are upside down, Jeune said. We did get a promise of help from the public works department to get the rubble out with excavators. Jeune said that, apart from two medical oxygen plants in the capital, Port-au-Prince, his factory was the only one serving local hospitals.
As the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on, Jeune says demand for oxygen has gone up 200% in the last month.
We have the capacity to supply 40 oxygen cylinders per day, Jeune said. We supply several hospitals.
The powerful earthquake that struck Haiti’s southwestern peninsula killed at least 2,189 and injured 12,268 people, according to official figures. More than 300 people are estimated to still be missing, said Serge Chery, head of civil defense for the Southern Province, which includes the small port city of Les Cayes.
More than 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving about 30,000 families homeless, according to official estimates. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches also were demolished or badly damaged. The earthquake was trailed by a tropical storm that brought heavy rain and strong winds at the beginning of the week.
Private relief supplies and shipments from the US government and others began flowing more quickly into Haiti, but the Caribbean nation’s entrenched poverty, insecurity and lack of basic infrastructure still presented huge challenges to getting food and urgent medical care to all those who need it.
Adding to the problems, a major hospital in the capital of Port-au-Prince, where many of the injured were being sent, closed for two days beginning to protest the kidnapping of two doctors, including one of the country’s few orthopedic surgeons.
The abductions dealt a blow to attempts to control criminal violence that has threatened disaster response efforts in the capital.
Further, a group of 18 Colombian volunteer search-and-rescue workers had to be escorted out of the quake-hit city of Jeremie under police protection after a false rumor circulated that they had been involved in the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The workers took shelter at a civil defense office, and police escorted them to the airport.
Moise’s killing, still unsolved, is suspected of being carried out by a group of Colombian mercenaries. Despite what happened to the Colombian rescue workers, Haiti is welcoming everyone who is coming to bring assistance.

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