At the request of the Haitian government, the United States Army has taken over operation of the Port au Prince airport in Haiti’s capital to unblock the delivery of supplies to what the UN is calling the worst disaster they’ve ever dealt with.
Humanitarian supplies from around the world are trapped at the airport, where supply planes are being turned away and the navy says they can’t land their helicopters to pick up supplies because of lack of organization on the ground. The International Red Cross says they can’t get any planes in. The Netherlands are sending a warship with supplies today after a supply plane was unable to land yesterday.
The haitian government has been relocated to a police station near the airport for increased security. Secretary of State Clinton is arriving today to meet with President Preval, fly american survivors home, and deal with local officials who are “reluctant to give up power,” according to Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to Washington. Additional US warships, and up to 10,000 troops, will be there by Monday.
Preval admits that his government isn’t functioning: “The government has lost its capacity to function properly, but it has not collapsed.” Former President Bill Clinton, who President Obama asked to assist US efforts in Haiti, described the government as “disabled.” A top aide to the Mayor of Port au Prince describes conditions in the city as “anarchy.”
Haiti’s government estimates the death toll from Tuesday’s earthquake at 200,000, but international aid agencies are afraid that if supplies don’t arrive soon, starvation, lack of water, fuel and sanitation, and panic-induced violence will drive the numbers much higher.