The images from Haiti yesterday - a woman buried to her chest in rubble; the ruins of the presidential palace; dazed, bloodied faces covered in dust - brought home the sheer human tragedy that an earthquake can wreak. The outpouring of aid should be immediate, following on the heels of our prayers.Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but they can be prepared for. The death toll, which will not be known for days, will be far higher than it should be given proper infrastructure and, more importantly, the social structures to cope with disaster. The country has a sad history of misfortune, recently of natural disasters, corrupt politics and social chaos born of the institutionalised criminality of groups such as the Tonton Macoute.
Foreign intervention, symbolised by the now-destroyed UN headquarters, has on balance done little good. Let us hope that aid directed towards this latest disaster also better prepares Haiti for challenges of the future.