A 10-member South African rescue team from Gift of the Givers arrived in Haiti on Sunday as part of a R15m effort to help victims of the earthquake that struck last week.

The Haitian government said more than 50 000 people had been killed and 250 000 injured by the earthquake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince.

Gift of the Givers chairman Imtiaz Sooliman said on Sunday that the team left SA for Paris on Friday but could not fly directly to Haiti as the airport was closed.

The team, which includes professionals skilled in disaster response, urban rescue and advanced life support, travelled by land from the Dominican Republic.

It is carrying emergency medicines and R2,5m worth of heavy equipment to locate survivors in the rubble.

Two more teams will leave for Haiti this week. The first will leave tonight.

On Wednesday, a 20-member medical team will follow. It includes skilled trauma medical specialists including orthopaedic, facial surgeons, anaesthetists and advanced life-support paramedics.

Mr. Sooliman said the charity had been negotiating with the government to fund a cargo plane to transport hundreds of tons of emergency supplies.

The plane will leave towards the end of the week, when the airport has been reopened.

Supplies include medicines, tents, blankets, water, food and water tablets.

Mr. Sooliman said the Gift of the Givers mission was supported by the President’ s Office, the Department of International Relations and Co- operation and the Department of Health.

Source:, 20100118

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