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American Forces Press Service

Petraeus: Limited Airport Hampers Haiti Relief

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2010 – Limited runway space at the Port-au-Prince airport is hampering humanitarian relief operations in Haiti, the chief of U.S. Central Command said today.

“This is a single runway; there’s not even a taxi-way,” Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said during a Pentagon Channel interview.

The magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12 severely damaged much of Port-au-Prince, the capital city, including its airport and seaport.

Though relief aid now is pouring into Haiti, Petraeus said, the limited airport ramp space is making it difficult to off load supplies.

Coordinating aircraft to land and take off at Port-au-Prince airport also is difficult, Petraeus said, noting satellite-enabled command-and-control systems need to be established.

“Everything has been knocked out” by the earthquake, Petraeus said of Haiti’s already-sparse infrastructure.

Nonetheless, the humanitarian aid mission continues to make progress, Petraeus said, as food, water and medical care are distributed among the stricken Haitian people.

The situation in Haiti, he said, requires an “industrial-strength” response effort.

“And, that is what we are doing,” Petraeus said.

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