Australians are digging deep for the victims of the Haiti earthquake with child focused agency UNICEF reporting a surge in giving which “which harks back to the extraordinary response by the public” in the wake of the 2004 Asian Boxing Day tsunami.

UNICEF spokesman Martin Thomas says while emergency appeals last year all suffered from compassion fatigue following Australia’s “overwhelming response” to the victims of the Victorian bushfires, that was no longer the case with more than $250,000 reportedly donated to the organisation’s relief efforts in Haiti.

“The scenes of devastation and suffering are obviously touching the hearts of Australians,” he said.

Private donations from Australians are now in the millions while the Australian Government has pledged $10 million but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was ready to send more if requested.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the situation in Haiti as “catastrophic”.

Thousands of people remain living on crowded streets while frustration over the slow delivery of aid and the clean-up in the aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Haiti has spilled over into violence with reports that looters have been killed. There are also concerns over several thousand prisoners who escaped from the city’s main prison.

"People are becoming more aggressive because they need food and water," a 29-year-old survivor named Sherley is quoted as saying in a statement on the ICRC website. "As we start to figure out that our loved ones are not going to be found, it is as if we are finally understanding what is happening to us. Today, people are fighting to survive." 

Among the international community, meanwhile, a row has reportedly broken out over the United States’ control of Port-au-Prince’s main airport with many governments and relief organisations reported to be “furious” that flights into the city have been redirected. There have also been calls for better coordination of aid efforts.

The death toll from last Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake remains uncertain but there are reports that 70,000 bodies have already been buried. Officials have expressed fears it top 200,000.

The UN estimates that between one and three million people are in need of aid.

World Vision is among organisations which have begun distributing relief supplies including food and water, clothing, shelter and medical supplies.

“It’s good to see the aid coming but we want to see more," earthquake survivor Dine Paul was quoted as saying in a statement from the organisation.

Another survivor, Prednor Metellus, shared a plea for the international community: “Pray for us so that God will remember us. Our needs are getting bigger. We need everything.”