Aid gets to quake victims as hopes fade of finding more survivors

EMERGENCY relief efforts to help the people of Haiti following last week's devastating earthquake are gathering pace – but hopes of dragging further survivors from the rubble are beginning to fade.

In the seven days since the quake, the unofficial death toll has reached more than 100,000.

Vital supplies – including tents, food and water – finally started to reach the most stricken areas yesterday.

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The UK Government has now announced a trebling of its original contribution – to more than 20m – but concerns have been voiced that aid has not been distributed fast enough to the hundreds of thousands left destitute or needing medical attention.

Last night, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), co-ordinating the relief, said water supplies and medical expertise were increasingly reaching the capital Port-au-Prince, but elsewhere the situation remains bleak, with many areas still cut off.

British search and rescue volunteer Anthony Thomas, 47, from Devon, said the team in Leogane, a town about 20 miles from the capital, had found no survivors in the past five days.

Mr Thomas said: "Depending on what physical state people are in they can last from sometimes up to six, seven even eight days.

"But we will probably be pulled out soon as the search and rescue section of this operation is coming to an end."

Meanwhile tributes have been paid to the first Briton confirmed dead following the quake with concerns growing for a number of others still missing.

Frederick Wooldridge, 41, and a United Nations aid worker from Kent, was "committed" to helping the developing world, his family said.

"Frederick was committed to helping developing countries to build better futures for their peoples," they added.

"Frederick was a much-loved member of a close family. He leaves behind his wife, his parents, brother and sister, grandmother and extended family."

Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times and with the families and friends of those British nationals whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed."

Downing Street said more than 60 UK nationals in Haiti had contacted consular officials to confirm that they were safe and well but there were still concerns for others.

A DEC appeal has raised 23m since last week.

DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley said: "Our partner agencies have been distributing aid and installing vital equipment, such as water bladders and medical facilities.

"We know that people are being reached, but there is a huge challenge ahead, and much more work to be done.

"The area affected by this earthquake is huge, and devastation wrecked upon the infrastructure of Haiti means agencies face many obstacles."

Stars team up to give help

Celebrities are using their fame to boost efforts to raise funds for the stricken country.

A benefit organised by Hollywood actor George Clooney will include performances from Bono, Sting, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys.

More than 40 celebrities are expected to attend the January 22 event "to show the people of Haiti that the whole world is paying attention", he said.

The benefit, which Clooney and Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean will host, will be broadcast on more than a dozen broadcast and cable networks and comes just days before two of the world's greatest footballers – Zinedine Zidane and Kaka – will take part in a match in Lisbon to support relief efforts.

The game takes place next Monday.