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World News

January 14, 2010

Aid workers in Haiti face 'logistical nightmare'

(Continued)

She said 40 search-and-rescue teams from around the world had started arriving in Haiti to look for survivors trapped inside collapsed buildings. But to find and save people, the rescuers need heavy machinery to lift tons of rubble — equipment that teams from places like Britain and Iceland have, but others don't

Haiti has virtually none of those machines but aid workers were trying to get some into Haiti from the Dominican Republic, Charles Vincent of the World Food Program said.

"We'll have to see how that works out," said Vincent. "The U.S. military will also be bringing in some equipment."

The desperate situation has aid groups fearing a surge in lawlessness, Vincent said. U.N. peacekeepers are patrolling to try to control looting but they are dealing with many deaths and injuries of their own, he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its forensic specialists would help ensure that bodies of the quake victims are recovered and identified for the benefit of their families.

The Red Cross set up a special Web site to help Haitians find their missing loved ones, and after just a few hours, over 5,000 people had already registered on it, many from the United States and Canada.

Aid was delivered or promised from many countries, including Brazil, the European Union, Britain, Germany, Israel, France, Switzerland, South Korea and Canada. China dispatched a chartered plane carrying 10 tons of tents, food, medical equipment and sniffer dogs, along with a 60-member earthquake relief team who worked in China's own 2008 earthquake, which killed some 90,000 people.

The Red Cross estimated that some 3 million people in Haiti will require aid, ranging from shelter to food and clean water, and said many Haitians could need relief aid for a full year.

Aid workers base such estimates on a formula that has been refined over the years as disasters have been studied, said ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal.

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