After the tsunami, the dead were buried in mass graves. After Hurricane Mitch swept through Honduras in 1998, the government burned the corpses in vast fields.
In Haiti, Ewald said that thousands more will likely be buried en masse.
"You get to the point where because of logistics, you end up digging 200 very large graves,'' he said.
Another reason, experts say, is that there isn't any place in Port-au-Prince to dispose of the corpses. The few cemeteries that exist have been full for years.
"You have to leave the city to find a place to dig a hole,'' Griffin said. "Even if you collect them, where are you going to bury them?''
In fact, the government of Haiti has already started the process, burying 7,000 cadavers into graves 20 miles outside the capital. But thousands more are left covered in the rubble.
"We cannot afford to wait on the international community, we can't wait for them to do things for us,'' said Dr. Ariel Henry, the chief of cabinet for the Ministry of Health.
As international forensic teams begin to arrive, the survivors -- reeling from the loss of their homes and family -- are left wandering among the twisted corpses.
Bodies stretched for half a block along the street outside the Port-au-Prince morgue Thursday, where police, civilians and private companies dumped cadavers because there was no other place to take them.
An exasperated hospital manager said he was waiting for approval from the government to remove the bodies. When room ran out at the morgue, corpses were tossed onto the street, where a group of solemn onlookers stood staring.
Amid buzzing flies, toddlers were piled on top of naked adults -- their swollen bodies exposed to hundreds of people passing by. One dead woman was identified by a red ribbon and hand-written note tied to her left big toe.
Though the goal of forensic teams is to identify every dead person for their loved ones, the reality is that thousands will be dumped in graves -- their names unknown.
Lionel Gaedi stood dazed on Thursday, staring at the mass of bodies sprawled under the blazing sun.
"I have a brother and I don't see him,'' he said.
"It's a catastrophe. God gives, God takes.'' Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.