(AFP) – 13 hours ago
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama finally reached Haiti's President Rene Preval by telephone Friday and offered "full support" in earthquake relief aid and long-term rebuilding, the White House said.
Obama, who has demanded an "aggressive" US rescue operation, had been trying to contact Preval for several days and failed due to communications problems, but spoke to the Haitian leader for 30 minutes earlier Friday.
"President Obama said that the world has been devastated by the loss and suffering in Haiti, and pledged the full support of the American people for the government and people of Haiti as it relates to both the immediate recovery effort, and the long-term rebuilding effort," a White House statement said.
The White House said Preval told Obama Haiti's needs were great but that relief aid was now flowing in, from America and the rest of the world.
The leaders also agreed on the need to coordinate the rescue effort with global institutions and other nations.
"President Preval closed by passing a message to the American people, -- 'from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Haitian people, thank you, thank you, thank you,'" the statement said.
Navy choppers fly in much-needed aidHaiti Aftermath: Aid Slowly ArrivingPosted: 7:35 PM Jan 15, 2010
Water and medical supplies were dropped into Haiti one chopper at a time in a relief mission launched from a U.S. aircraft carrier in the bay of Port-au-Prince.
•Leadership in crisis, relief comes slowly BY JENNIFER LEBOVICH
ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON -- Desperate to get supplies into Haiti, the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, off the coast of the quake-ravaged nation, pulled the bottled water and Gatorade from the vending machines and ship stores.
The water, along with medical supplies, was loaded onto helicopters and delivered into the country on Friday.
By day's end, the ship was out of goods to deliver.
Getting more supplies to the ship is the biggest challenge, said Rear Adm. Ted Branch.
``We have lift, we have communications, we have command and control, but we don't have much relief supplies to offer,'' Branch said.
The aircraft carrier in the bay of Port-au-Prince a few miles off the coast is the frontline of the American relief effort hereAbout 15 helicopter flights launched from the carrier's deck on Friday, dropping goods into Haiti. Helicopters were also making trips back and forth to Guantánamo Bay to pick up people and supplies. They took hundreds of cases of water and Gatorade the 10-mile hop to Port-au-Prince.
Branch said the choppers took supplies to six different sites on Friday. But he said the overall coordination isn't what it needs to be.
``Everyone is trying to help, everyone is trying to do their part,'' he said. ``I think it's fair to say the coordination hasn't come as far as it needs to do make this as efficient as possible.''
The Navy has distributed all of its supplies at the Port-au-Prince airport. Other groups have supplies, but have faced difficulties moving them into Haiti because of the destruction.
``There are supplies there under the control of other agencies who want to deliver those supplies themselves and they are stymied by lack of transportation on the ground,'' Branch said. ``Unless we can get that coordination to work, to allow the most efficient distribution to happen, we'll continue to have problems.''
More supplies were expected to be flown in from Guantánamo Bay on Saturday.
The carrier was off the coast of Norfolk, Va., when it got orders at around midnight Tuesday to head to the ravaged country. It had been at dry dock for the past four years getting a complete overhaul.
Traveling at about 32 knots, the nuclear-powered carrier slowed off the coast of Mayport, Fla., to pick up additional helicopters, and now has 19 onboard.
The Vinson was the first American naval ship to arrive in Haiti.
On Friday, three other amphibious ships were ordered to head to the region. A cruiser and two frigates were ordered to stand by at their homeports.
The carrier, which normally has a crew of 2,800 and has added a further 700 for this mission, arrived in Haiti early Friday morning. Its landing strips served as the logistical hub of operations.
On Friday, the first flight, surveying potential drop points for relief supplies, left the carrier at around 6 a.m.
During the day, the ship doesn't anchor, instead moving as the winds change so the helicopters can land. At about 3:30 p.m., Branch briefed reporters from the flight bridge.
Below, the last helicopters of the day were readied to leave. On the flight deck, rotors whirred as the choppers, an MH-53 and an SH-60, waited to make the last flights of the day. The helicopters are not flying after dark because there are no lights to mark power lines and towers.
A medevac helicopter also launched from the ship to help with the rescue of an American citizen found in the rubble of a hotel. At least one of his limbs had to be amputated and he was brought onboard to be treated.
To deliver supplies, the command must also figure out the best way to drop supplies. The big helicopters, like the MH-53, kick up a lot of debris and Branch said they might instead break the supplies into smaller loads.
The 82nd Airborne is on the ground helping provide security for supply drops. On Friday, Branch said the crowds were ``pretty well behaved. We might have surprised them.''
But he cautioned: ``No one knows what will happen in the coming days.''
(Fear of chaos grows in Haiti's capital
Looters roam streets of Port-au-Prince; death toll mounts.... MSNBC)
Updated: Friday, 15 Jan 2010, 10:40 PM EST
Published : Friday, 15 Jan 2010, 10:40 PM EST
By TAI HERNANDEZ
MYFOXNY.COM - Some groups now say the death toll from the earthquake in Haiti could reach 200,000 because the chances of survival for those people still trapped is very low after 72 hours. And with conditions among the living deteriorating with each passing moment, officials fear the situation will move from desperation to lawlessness.
"Beyond three or four days without water, they'll be pretty ill," Dr. Michael VanRooyen of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative told the AP. "Around three days would be where you would see people start to succumb."
The signs of death are everywhere from the corpse-ridden streets to the sickening smell. With temperatures in the high 80s, it's not just despair that is on the rise, but thirst and panic.
Heeding the call to get food an supplies to the victims, Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed to the quake zone Friday. They will join the heavy presence of U.S. military in the country, which has taken control of the airport in Port au Prince and securing the evacuation of injured foreigners and coordinating incoming relief.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Haiti Saturday. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is the U.N.'s special envoy for Haiti.
"You may see some things the next seven to ten days that don't just tug at your heart strings, but may upset you," President Clinton said. "You may see a lot of very angry people, you may see some people looting, you may see some people doing some things that you don't like. But, keep in mind what happened. This earthquake, first of all, disabled the government in the short term."
Even with the clock ticking, there are still survival stories to be told. Sarla Chand of New Jersey was rescued from a hotel where U.N. workers were housed. She had been trapped for two days.
And an Australian TV crew pulled a healthy 16-month-old girl from the wreckage of her house Friday.
Those receiving medical attention are also considered lucky. But the suffering is difficult to bear. Medicine and food can't get here fast enough. Aware that hunger alone may drive people to violence.
"My message to the people of Haiti is that we need a safe and secure environment to be the most effective," said Lt. Gen. Ken Keen of the U.S. Army. "We can to deliver these humanitarian supplies so I plead to them that they work to that end and it will be in the interests of everybody."
With AP and Fox News reports
After a day of deliveries, US ship runs out of Haiti aid
Nothing left to deliver, says captain, but other supplies are sitting around because deliverers do not have green light to move them. -AFP
Sat, Jan 16, 2010
AFPBy Daphne BenoitABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON - Helicopters sit ready to go from this US aircraft carrier off Haiti, but there's a problem: after a day of frantic aid runs there is simply nothing left to deliver.
Aboard the warship some 3,500 US military personnel have been coordinating the flights of 19 US helicopters carrying aid since early morning.
Visible from the ship is Haiti's scarred capital city Port-au-Prince, devastated by Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude, which Haitian officials say killed at least 50,000 people.
In less than 12 hours, helicopters from the USS Carl Vinson made some 20 trips to scout the ravaged landscape and deliver items that were originally intended for the ship's crew.
Among the supplies dropped off were thousands of bottles of water and energy drinks, 8,000 sheets and hundreds of camp beds.
Dozens of hospital beds have been arranged on board the ship to accommodate those injured in the quake, including a US citizen evacuated from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince.
The take off and landing space offered by aircraft carriers are crucial for the international aid effort, which has struggled to get in relief via Port-au-Prince's single-runway airport.
The relief work also faces logistical and coordination challenges, according to Rear Admiral Ted Branch, the most senior military official aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
"We have lift, we have communications, we have some command and control, but we don't have much relief supplies to offer," said Branch, who commands the battle group led by the nuclear-powered Carl Vinson.
"We have no supplies at the airport that we have access to. There are other supplies there that are under the control of other agencies, other organizations and we haven't yet coordinated together to make those supplies available for anyone to deliver," he added.
US humanitarian aid for Haiti is being sent in part through Guantanamo Bay, which is serving as a logistical base for the US relief effort, but the supplies have taken time to arrive.
"We need to get that kind of supply chain process energized to have an efficient route point for the supplies. Unfortunately that doesn't happen overnight," Branch said.
The commander noted that some supplies remain at the airport, and could easily be delivered by US helicopters.
"The problem is, some people are perhaps not ready to release their stuff to the most efficient transportation makers and want to deliver supplies themselves."
Despite the desperation in Haiti's capital, where dead bodies were being thrown into mass graves Friday as people looted damaged stores for food, Branch said aid distributions had been relatively calm.
"So far the crowd has been pretty well behaved during distributions," he said. "We will have to see as distributions become more regular if we see unruliness of mob type behavior. I hope we don't."
Camp Lejeune Marines & Sailors Leave For Haiti
Military personal from across the nation, including right here in the east, are heading to Haiti to help aide in the rescue and recovery efforts.
Reporter: Dave Jordan
Military personal from across the nation, including right here in the east, are heading to Haiti to help aide in the rescue and recovery efforts.
More than 2, 000 Marines and Sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit are heading to the disaster-ridden country in support of relief efforts for the earthquake victims.
The 22nd MEU left from the state port in Morehead City Friday afternoon on amphibious ships U.S.S. Bataan, Fort McHenry and Carter Hall. The unit recently returned from a 7-month deployment to U.S. European and central commands, and say they're ready to help the Haitians.
Camp Lejeune Marines are no stranger to Haiti. They provided humanitarian aid in 2008 after storms killed hundreds of people, and were there in 1991 and 2004 providing stability and support operations.
NC Marines prepare 3 ships to aid in Haiti relief
Posted: Jan. 15 10:28 a.m.
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Marines and sailors from North Carolina are boarding three ships to Haiti to support relief efforts following this week's devastating earthquake.
Officials said the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit will be deployed on the amphibious ships USS Bataan, Fort McHenry and Carter Hall on Friday. The unit is taking trucks, earth-moving equipment and water purification systems to support the disaster relief effort.
Fort Bragg has already sent more than 100 soldiers to Haiti while another 800 soldiers are going Friday.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: United States Department of State
Date: 15 Jan 2010
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington — The arrival of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, equipped with 19 helicopters and relief supplies, off the coast of Port-Au-Prince is providing an important new avenue for humanitarian aid and equipment to get to affected sites in the wake of continued transportation challenges following the January 12 earthquake.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon January 15 that the USS Vinson has also come equipped with 51 hospital beds, three medical operating rooms and equipment to produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day.
The arrival of helicopters will help with the distribution of aid supplies and equipment, as many roads in Haiti remain impassible.
Other U.S. military assets currently in place in and around Haiti to help with relief efforts are the USS Higgins and several U.S. Coast Guard cutters to provide search-and-rescue support. In addition, a company from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division is working with the personnel from the USS Vinson in delivering water supplies, Mullen said.
"Although it seems that supplies and security cannot come quickly enough … we're doing everything we possibly can," he said.
The principal focus remains supporting search-and-rescue efforts that are trying to reach survivors, as well as meeting the immediate needs for food, water and medical assistance.
Other naval vessels en route include the cruiser-sized USS Normandy and the frigate-sized USS Underwood, both equipped with small helicopters. The helicopter carrier USS Bataan is equipped with the U.S. Navy's second-largest ship-based hospital facility; it has six fully equipped operating rooms and can care for 600 patients. It left its base in Norfolk, Virginia, January 14 accompanied by the USS Fort McHenry and USS Carter Hall, as well as members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. That group is transporting helicopters, utility air-support aircraft, trucks, earth-moving equipment and water purification systems, according to Captain Clark Carpenter of the 22nd Marines.
Admiral Mullen said the 275-meter-long hospital ship USS Comfort, "with hundreds of medical professionals and the vital medical support," should be off the Haitian coast by January 22 or 23. The Comfort and its sister ship the USS Mercy are the largest hospital ships in the world and boast 12 operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds and state-of-the-art treatment centers.
Mullen said there are currently 1,000 U.S. military personnel in Haiti and the number will increase to 10,000 by January 18. "That is not 10,000 forces ashore because the bulk of those will be on ships," he said, providing additional support especially for medical, food and water needs. The number of military personnel could rise, he added.
According to news reports, the Cuban government is allowing U.S. medical evacuation flights to fly through its airspace.
U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said January 15 that so far the UniteStates has provided 600,000 daily rations of food to Haiti, with $48 million allocated, which he said will be enough to feed 2 million people for several months.
In addition, Shah said the United States has mobilized 100,000 10-liter collapsible water containers, of which 20,000 have arrived in the country.
The State Department's assistant secretary of state for public affairs, P.J. Crowley, told reporters January 15 that the arrival of helicopters from the USS Vinson has provided "a second significant channel besides the airport to be able to deliver assistance on the ground."
"We have a lot of stuff geared, poised to flow," he said.
"Up till now we have been delivering assistance through a garden hose, but now we're expanding that … as we work to create a river in terms of the flow of assistance to Haiti," he said.
The international relief effort has "established a foundation for the operation," he said. "Now we're gradually starting to see an increase in the flow of material. But we still need to find ways to expand [the] number of channels and broaden them as we go."
Crowley said U.S. personnel are working to expand the capacity of the Toussaint Louverture Airport to receive an increasing number of relief supplies and personnel from around the world. U.S. Southern Command officials have determined that the single runway facility can handle a maximum of 90 takeoffs and landings per day, and are working to reach that capacity.
Crowley said that along with roads that need to be cleared, Port-Au-Prince's port remains a problem.
"The limitation now is the inherent infrastructure in Haiti," he said. "We'd love to have access to the port and right now there are port assessment teams continuing to study that to see how we can use it, but for the moment, for large ships, the port is unusable."