WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of U.S. troops and an aircraft carried have arrived at the Haiti relief effort, and the commander on the ground said Friday that food, water, medicine and other emergency relief supplies are being rushed to victims.
Thousands more troops and sailors were en route.
"We have much more support on the way," Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen said. "Our priority is getting relief out to the needy people, to mitigate the suffering that the Haitian people are experiencing right now."
Delayed for hours along with other flights circling over the severely congested Port au Prince airport, a second plane carrying soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division finally landed at the airport in the middle of the night — bringing the infantry unit's total there to 155, Maj. Kristian Sorensen, a spokesman at Fort Bragg, said Friday.
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson also arrived off Haiti's shores overnight carrying 19 helicopters, and it started flights off its deck in the morning, officials said.
The carrier also has water-purifying equipment and three surgical operating rooms and can do medical evacuations as well as ferry supplies and people to and from land.
The arrivals added to more than 300 military personnel who had gotten there as of Thursday and amounted to the first major influx of military from the United States, which has taken the lead in world efforts to assist the devastated country.
The U.S. Southern Command said there were about 8,000 personnel from America's armed forces either on site or on the way as of Friday morning.
Fort Bragg was sending another 800 troops Friday and will have a full brigade of some 3,500 on the ground by the end of the weekend. Another big ground force was expected late this weekend — the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship got under way overnight from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia and was stopping Friday to pick up Marines in North Carolina on its way.