Officials Work to Speed Aid to Devastated Haitians

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- With food, water and other aid flowing into Haiti in earnest, relief groups and officials are focused on moving the supplies out of the clogged airport and to hungry, haggard earthquake survivors in the capital.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, to confer with President Rene Preval and U.S. and international civilian and military officials on how best to help the recovery effort and Haitian government.

Clinton on Friday cited a "race against time" before anxiety and anger create additional problems. Relief workers warned that unless supplies are quickly delivered, Port-au-Prince will degenerate into lawlessness.

The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's magnitude-7.0 earthquake. While workers are burying some in mass graves, countless bodies remain unclaimed in the streets and the limbs of the dead protrude from crushed schools and homes.

A third of Haiti's 9 million people may be in need of aid. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the World Food Program was providing high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals to around 8,000 people "several times a day."

U.S. officials on Friday also acknowledged the limits of their initial relief efforts, and promised a quick ramp-up in delivery of badly needed supplies. Dr. Rajiv Shah, the White House's coordinator of the U.S. relief effort who was also expected to arrive Saturday, indicated aid would begin flowing more freely in the next few days.

The effort to get aid to the victims has been stymied by blocked roads, congestion at the airport, limited equipment and other obstacles. U.N. peacekeepers patrolling the capital said popular anger was rising and warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.

The international Red Cross said a big medical convoy was heading into Haiti by road Saturday from the Dominican Republic because of the backups at the airport.

Medical teams from other nations set up makeshift hospitals to tend to the critically injured. Time, however, was running short for the rescue of people who still might be alive under the rubble.


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