US government agencies said they were working closely with Haitian officials to distribute aid. Former US President Bill Clinton announced he would head to Haiti on Monday.
AFP - The United States is working in "close consultation" with the Haitian government to ferry aid to the quake-devastated country, a US official said Sunday amid a brewing controversy over poor coordination.
The US military, which will eventually have over 10,000 troops on the ground, has taken charge of operating Port-au-Prince airport and tensions have risen as bottlenecks have delayed deliveries of desperately needed aid.
Several aircraft filled with supplies have been diverted from the airport, the main port of entry into the country but one whose control tower was destroyed and which only has a single runway.
"Everything we're doing here is obviously in coordination with UN partners and close consultation with the government of Haiti," insisted Tim Callaghan, a senior regional adviser for the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The US embassy has denied accusations that US troops and diplomats have prioritized evacuating Americans out of the country and receiving shipments of US aid over other international efforts. Some 2,000 Americans have been evacuated.
Five days after a 7.0-magnitude quake struck the poorest nation in the Americas, Callaghan warned time was of the essence to rescued survivors still trapped under mountains of rubble and deliver badly-need food and water supplies to the hundreds of thousands left homeless and hungry by the disaster.
"The further away we are from the event, the more difficult it gets," he told reporters. "But at this point, we are dedicated to work 24/7 on search and rescue."
The United Nations estimates that over 70 people have been pulled out of the wreckage so far. Another 40 were found Sunday, rescuers told AFP.
The Red Cross has spoken of 45,000 to 50,000 dead. But Lieutenant General Ken Keen, the US general running the relief effort, said the international community should be prepared for the worst and the toll could be as high as 200,000.
Buck Elton, commander of US forces directing flights at the airport, said that the smallest planes now take off and land on the grass due to the lack of a second runway, and that the traffic flow "gets better every day."
Date created : 2010-01-17