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January 15, 2010

Aid groups struggle to get food, water to Haitians

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Aid workers hoping to distribute food, water and other supplies to a shattered Port-au-Prince are warning their efforts may need more security Friday as Haitians grow increasingly desperate and impatient for help. Hundreds of U.S. paratroopers arrived overnight to back up the relief effort.

Hard-pressed government workers, meanwhile, were burying thousands of bodies in mass graves. The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's cataclysmic earthquake.

More and more Friday, the focus fell on the daunting challenge of getting food and water to millions of survivors. United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the capital said people's anger is rising that aid hasn't been distributed quickly, and the Brazilian military warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.

"Unfortunately, they're slowly getting more angry and impatient," said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the Brazilian-commanded U.N. peacekeeping mission. "I fear, we're all aware that the situation is getting more tense as the poorest people who need so much are waiting for deliveries. I think tempers might be frayed."

The U.N. World Food Program reported Friday that its warehouses in the Haitian capital had been looted since the devastating quake. It didn't know how much of its pre-quake stockpile of 15,000 tons of food aid remained.

A spokeswoman for the Rome-based agency, Emilia Casella, noted that regular food stores in the city also had been emptied by looters. Casella said the WFP was preparing shipments of enough ready-to-eat meals to feed 2 million Haitians for a month.

More than 300 troops of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division arrived at the Port au Prince airport overnight and others have arrived in nearby waters on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen told ABC's "Good Morning America."

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