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World News

January 14, 2010

Quake aid starts to arrive for desperate Haitians

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Desperately needed aid from around the world slowly made its way Thursday into Haiti, where supply bottlenecks and a leadership vacuum left rescuers scrambling on their own to save the trapped and injured and get relief supplies into the capital.

The international Red Cross estimated that 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's magnitude-7.0 earthquake.

President Barack Obama announced that "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history" is moving toward Haiti, with thousands of troops and a broad array of civilian rescue workers flying or sailing in to aid the stricken country — backed by more than $100 million in relief funds.

To the Haitians, Obama promised: "You will not be forsaken."

The nascent flow of rescue workers showed some results: A newly arrived search team pulled U.N. security worker Tarmo Joveer alive from the organization's collapsed headquarters, where about 100 people are still trapped. He stood, held up a fist in celebration, and was helped to a hospital.

There are easily hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people trapped, living or dead, in collapsed buildings. No one knows for certain. Friends and relatives have had to claw at the wreckage, often with bare hands, to try to free them.

Many dead bodies that were recovered still lay in the street, often covered by a white cloth, in 81-degree heat.

Some people dragged the dust-covered dead along the roads toward the morgue, where people came to hunt for relatives in a macabre sea of hundreds of bodies just a few feet from where badly injured victims awaited a doctor from the neighboring hospital.

Planes from China, France, Spain and the United States landed at Port-au-Prince's airport, carrying searchers and tons of water, food, medicine and other supplies — with more promised the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. The Red Cross has estimated 3 million people — a third of the population — may need emergency relief.

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