Saturday, January 16

Secretary of State Heads to Haiti

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left this morning to travel to Haiti. Her flight is also bringing much needed supplies to the devastated island nations people.

Clinton's plane is reportedly carrying several thousands dollars worth food and supplies for the 140 U.S. embassy staff who are in Haiti. In addition to the supplies for the U.S. embassy staff, the plane is carrying 100 cases of emergency food rations and 100 cases of water.

The trip to Haiti is only scheduled to be a one day visit. During her time on the island, Clinton is planing on visiting President Preval. The overall focus of the trip is to get a first hand account of both the damage to the nation of Haiti and to the ongoing relief efforts.

The current estimate of the dead as a result of the 7.0 magnitude quake is near or above 200,000. The numbers are expected to rise as access to water, milk, food, power and medical care are almost nonexistent.

The death count will also rise in the coming weeks since many of the family members of those who were killed in the quake are hiding the dead in an effort to keep there loved ones from being buried in the mass graves that are popping up through out the country. It is expected that they will attempt to hold on to those bodies until such time as they can perform a more typical and personal Haitian funeral.

The combination of the decomposing bodies of those loved ones being stored and those who have yet to be recovered may prove to be deadly. They will decompose more rapidly in a warm, moist climate and may raise the death toll yet further.

As of yesterday afternoon, the Haitian Prime Minister Bellerive had signed a memorandum of understanding granting airport control to the United States. The United States will assume this responsibility as long as it’s appropriate, and to the point where the Haitian Government is able and ready to resume that capability.

The U.S. has spaced out the flights and airport congestion has decreased. They intend to reach a capacity of 90 planes a day at the airport in Port-au-Prince which will allow people and relief efforts to move in and out of the country easier.

Secretary Clinton spoke with Dominican Republic President Fernandez yesterday and has made an effort to use assets within the Dominican Republic to help augment the logistical network that is being put in place for humanitarian relief.

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