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Haiti government working on quake recovery, prime minister says

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Haiti's president on Amanpour
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • All 18 members of the Cabinet survived the magnitude 7.0 quake
  • President Rene Preval will address his earthquake-battered people Tuesday
  • Government working on providing shelter, food, water prime minister says

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Haiti's government has regrouped after last week's devastating earthquake and is working to find food, shelter and medicine for survivors, its prime minister said Tuesday.

All 18 members of the Cabinet survived the magnitude 7.0 quake that struck south of Port-au-Prince on January 12, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said. The government is working out of a national police building near the Port-au-Prince airport, and President Rene Preval will address his earthquake-battered people Tuesday, Bellerive said.

"Today is the seventh day since the earthquake, and he plans a little bit later to make an evaluation of the situation to date," the prime minister said on CNN's "Amanpour" program.

Preval said trying to line up help for his country -- already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere -- was more important than making a public address.

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RELATED TOPICS
  • Haiti
  • Earthquakes
  • Port-au-Prince

"What we did was to go to every neighborhood to evaluate the damage and we feel that what was important was to right away to bring some help to the people," said Preval, who spoke in French with Bellerive as his interpreter.

At least 72,000 people have been confirmed dead, Bellerive said, and nearly 500,000 Haitians have been rendered homeless by the quake.

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"Now the main concern of the government is to find shelters and find places to build shelters in order to bring water, food and toilets for all those people until we can reconstruct," he said.

The last two days have seen reports of sporadic looting and violence around Port-au-Prince. Preval said Haitians must understand "that everybody was a victim in that catastrophe," but that getting aid into the hands of hungry, ill, frustrated people was necessary to ensure security.

"Finding water, food, is going to lower frustration, and that we're going to consolidate the security, because until now, the people are still understanding the situation," he said.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, with communications out and roads filled with wreckage, Bellerive said Preval and other government ministers used messengers on motorcycle to find each other.

"He sent a motorcycle to look for us, and we reached the president during the night by motorcycle. And from that moment, we would start to reunite," he said.

CNN's Gary Tuchman and Justine Redman contributed to this report.

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