Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Haiti death toll may hit 200,000

SEARCH FOR ORDERThe earthquake may be one of the 10 deadliest in history. The Haitian government has turned control of its main airport over to the US to bring order

REUTERS , PORT-AU-PRINCE

US President Barack Obama, who pledged an initial US$100 million in quake relief, promised the US would do what is necessary to save lives and get Haiti back on its feet.

“The scale of the devastation is extraordinary ... and the losses are heartbreaking,” Obama said at the White House.

Obama said the US, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, Russia, Japan, Britain and other countries managed to fly in rescue and logistics personnel and supplies. While some aid was getting in, the White House hoped improved logistics would streamline and accelerate the effort.

Planes and ships arrived with rescue teams, search dogs, tents, water purification units, food, doctors and telecoms teams, but faced a bottleneck at the small airport.

Air traffic control, hampered by damage to the airport’s tower, now will be handled by the US military with backup from a nuclear-­powered aircraft carrier.

The USS Carl Vinson with 19 helicopters arrived off Haiti on Friday, opening a second significant channel to deliver help. Navy helicopters had begun taking water ashore and ferrying injured people to a field hospital near the airport.

The US military aimed to have about 1,000 troops on the ground in Haiti on Friday and thousands more in ships offshore. The total will reach 9,000 to 10,000 troops by tomorrow.

NO WATER, NO SUPPLIES

The Pan American Health Organization said at least eight hospitals and health centers in Port-au-Prince had collapsed or sustained damage and were unable to function.

“We have no supplies. We need surgical gloves, antibiotics, antiseptic, disinfectant,” said a doctor, Jean Dieudonne Occelien. “We have nothing. Not even water. We have children out here with dry mouths and no water to give them.”

Police were scarcely seen on the streets and although some ­Brazilian UN peacekeepers were patrolling, there were reports of sporadic scavenging, some looting and one report of gunshots in downtown Port-au-Prince on Friday.

At one collapsed supermarket, scores of people swarmed over the rubble to try to reach the food underneath. Just outside the Cite Soleil slum, desperate people crowded around a burst water pipe, jostling to drink from the pipe or fill buckets.

Raggedly dressed survivors held out their arms to reporters touring the city, begging for food and water.

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