2nd SA rescue team for Haiti

2010-01-18 11:32

Johannesburg - Government will send a second team of professionals to assist with rescue efforts in quake devastated Haiti, an international relations spokesman said on Monday.

Spokesperson Saul Molobi said the team will comprise mainly forensic pathologists who would help identify bodies.

"We are not sure exactly when they will be sent... we are waiting for a report back from Rescue South Africa who are doing ground work in the country." The South African team already in Haiti included about 40 people, mainly medical staff and engineers. It had taken 10 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as medical supplies.

Molobi said South Africa would follow this up with other aid, like food and more medicine.

It was hoped South Africa could raise R30m to help.

The City of Tshwane and charity Gift of the Givers had also sent rescue teams.

According to estimates, last Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake claimed the lives of at least 100 000 people.

Molobi said former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide had not yet received an invitation to return home.

Last week, Aristide - who came to live in exile in South Africa with his family following his ousting as president in February 2004 - publicly expressed a desire to go home.

"As far as we are concerned we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity," Aristide said.

Molobi said Aristide would need to receive a formal invitation to be allowed home, and would not be involved in politics once there.

"When he goes back, he is not going back to a political office. He will just be going there to contribute through academia and civil interventions," said Molobi.