PORT-AU-PRINCE - Outside their wrecked headquarters, Radio Caraibe's presenters broadcast from a makeshift studio spilling over a pavement in Haiti's quake-hit capital, supplying news and messages about aid and victims.
Alongside hundreds of thousands of other survivors, the city's radio journalists are struggling to relay vital aid information and details on victims to a city climbing back to life nearly two weeks after the disaster.
Radio, a main channel of communication in Haiti, is even more crucial since the January 12 earthquake that killed up to 200,000 people, collapsed many parts of Port-au-Prince and left half a million people homeless or living in refugee camps scattered across the coastal capital.
Its gray office building cracked by the quake, Radio Caraibe's journalists were back on the air a day after the disaster. Calls flooded the station's new home behind a circle of red chairs out on the sidewalk, with cables, microphones and tables moved from indoors.
People called up for help, saying we have people under the rubble, we have people alive and asking for someone to come and help them, Patrick Moussignac, director of the Caraibe radio and television network. Now the messages are, 'We're hungry.'
Five radio stations were destroyed and at least two now operate in the open air, taking messages from victims and broadcasting aid relief details alongside news bulletins, debate programs and music slots.
More than 12 Haitian journalists died in the magnitude-7 earthquake, according to the local press association. Only two television stations operate, one of them run by the state.
Aid has begun to flow into the devastated areas, with U.S. military distributing food and water and humanitarian agencies tending to the injured.
Water is getting delivered, but life in the camps means still little food and no proper shelter as logistical logjams and the scale of the destruction complicate distribution of food, tents and other supplies.
NO GAS MEANS NO RADIO?
After the earthquake, Haitians tuned in to radios in refugee camps and on the streets they now call home. To keep people informed, U.S. troops have distributed thousands of wind-up and solar-powered transistor radios.
They talk about the disaster in Haiti, they talk about aid, but I don't see any, Jean Yvon Paul, listening to a small radio under a sheet in a squalid camp near the presidential palace.
Working from wooden desks in the courtyard of Radio Solidarite, broadcaster Marc Exavier says the station gives advice on staying out of wrecked buildings and takes hundreds of text messages a day from people seeking help from camps. We have nothing, there is no food, read one.
But even as they keep broadcasting, radio stations struggle with daily survival. A damaged telecommunications building threatens to topple as aftershocks still rattle the city, and a lack of gasoline for their generators has already taken Radio Solidarite off the air once.
We'll keep working, but the only problem is gas. Without gas we can't go on, Exavier said.
Many of Port-Au-Prince's streets are still filled with rubble, public spaces have become refugee camps and most of the city's downtown commercial area is a warren of pancaked buildings where scavengers squabble over what they dig up from the wreckage.
The government estimates about a third of the city will need to be rebuilt.
I just don't see how businesses here will be able to give any advertising, Caraibe's Moussignac said. Businesses were big victims in this quake, too.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)