Tags: Obama | Haiti | response | logistics

Obama Haiti Quake Response Faces Major Logistical Hurdles

Wednesday, 13 Jan 2010 10:06 PM

President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. government to undertake a massive relief effort in Haiti, but by nightfall only a handful of American relief aircraft and a Coast Guard cutter had reached the devastated country and officials were scrambling to overcome significant logistical hurdles to the operation.

By Wednesday afternoon, two U.S. C-130 cargo planes had reached the island to evacuate about 100 Americans who had gathered at the Port-au-Prince airport, the State Department said. The aircraft joined a Coast Guard helicopter effort that was able to transport the injured only three or four at a time to a ship off the coast.

Senior officials said that effort would ramp up significantly in the coming hours and days as emergency rescue and assessment teams—the first of which arrived through the day—re-establish communications and determine when the seaport and airport can begin taking additional rescue personnel and humanitarian aid.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. would provide a "swift, coordinated and aggressive effort" to save lives in the earthquake-devastated country.

But Port-au-Prince's main seaport was heavily damaged, making it difficult for ships to dock and unload supplies. The runways at the country's sole international airport were intact, but the control tower wasn't functioning, limiting arrivals. And larger ships bringing vehicles intended to ferry in supplies could take several days to reach the country.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking from Hawaii, said the situation in Haiti was "horrific." Mrs. Clinton canceled a trip to Australia and New Zealand to return to Washington for the relief effort. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also canceled his weekend trip to Australia to manage the Pentagon's response.

Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. was trying to account for the roughly 45,000 American citizens believed to be in the country. Tracking down Americans was proving difficult, however. By late afternoon, the State Department said it had received reports of three Americans dead.

President Obama offers information on how Americans can assist Haiti, adding that the U.S. will also offer rescue and humanitarian aid. Video courtesy of Fox News.

When it finally arrives, the U.S. contingent could be massive. Military officials from the Pentagon's Southern Command, which oversees Haiti, said the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier with a large contingent of helicopters and other planes, was en route and expected to arrive Thursday afternoon.

UN Emergency Relief coordinator John Holmes was not able to update the numbers of people hurt in Haiti, but says that the first search-and-rescue teams have arrived. Video courtesy of Fox Business Network.

Gen. Douglas Fraser, the commander of Southcom, said the U.S. was also deploying a large amphibious ship carrying a 2,000-person Marine expeditionary unit, helicopters and smaller landing craft. The ship should arrive in Haiti this weekend.

To read full Wall Street Journal story — Go Here Now.

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President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. government to undertake a massive relief effort in Haiti, but by nightfall only a handful of American relief aircraft and a Coast Guard cutter had reached the devastated country and officials were scrambling to overcome significant logistical hurdles to the
Obama,Haiti,response,logistics
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2010-06-13
 
 

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