Tags: Haiti | relief | efforts | airspace

Crammed Airspace Mars Haitian Relief Efforts

Monday, 18 Jan 2010 11:28 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Limited runway space and battered telecommunications networks are hindering efforts to get food, water and medical aid into the hands of desperate Haitians amid the devastation of last week's earthquake, relief agencies said Monday.

Doctors Without Borders reported that flights carrying critical medical equipment were being diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic. Oxfam warned that fuel shortages could be on the horizon. And a volunteer at a hospital in northern Haiti said he has large numbers of open beds, but no way to get patients there from Port-au-Prince.

"My surgeons are sitting around looking at each other, wondering why they came," Tim Traynor told CNN.

While visiting the injured at a U.N. clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haitian President Rene Preval said his ravaged population -- already the Western Hemisphere's poorest -- needs medicine, food and long-term reconstruction assistance.

"The more we receive help, the more we can take care of them," he said.

Louis Belanger, a spokesman for Oxfam in Port-au-Prince, said many roads have been cleared of debris since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday. That has allowed trucks to deliver aid to parts of the capital and its suburbs that had been cut off by collapsed buildings.

But with thousands of tons of aid heading into Haiti, the airport in Port-au-Prince "can't handle all the aid that's coming through," Belanger said.

The U.S. military has been helping Haitian authorities direct air traffic around Port-au-Prince, said Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Task Force Haiti. But he said "literally hundreds" of flights are trying to land at Port-au-Prince, which has "one tarmac, one runway, one ramp for all the aircraft."

"It is a sheer volume issue," he said. "There are more planes that want to land here than we can accommodate in any given hour."

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Limited runway space and battered telecommunications networks are hindering efforts to get food, water and medical aid into the hands of desperate Haitians amid the devastation of last week's earthquake, relief agencies said Monday.
Haiti,relief,efforts,airspace
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2010-28-18
Monday, 18 Jan 2010 11:28 PM
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