Port-au-Prince: Haiti raised the death toll on Wednesday from last month`s quake above 217,000, while the focus turned to providing shelter for the homeless before heavy rains and the hurricane season come.
"There are people who put forth the figure of 230,000, but we have counted a bit more than 217,000. These are verified figures," Interior Minister Paul Bien-Aime said.
The government also declared a day of mourning for Friday to mark one month since the quake struck, bringing death and destruction on an unprecedented scale to the desperately poor Caribbean nation.
"There are around 1.2 million people without shelter," David Pappiat of the British Red Cross told a summit in Montreal attended by Red Cross and Red Crescent delegations from 23 countries and two international bodies.
"We`re trying to set up shelters that can withstand the coming rainy season, the hurricane season, and that can last three to five years," commented Haitian Red Cross president Michael Amedee Gedeon.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has deployed some 600 people to Haiti to help with relief efforts.
"Shelter is a huge issue," agreed Lewis Lucke, the US Ambassador to Haiti, speaking in Port-au-Prince.
He said, "Nothing really compares in terms of (this) monumental challenge, for right now and for the coming weeks before the rainy season and months before the hurricane season."