A Haitian Red Cross official estimated today that 45,000 to 50,000 people perished in the shattering earthquake Tuesday, as President Obama pledged US support of $100 million for what he said is likely to be one of the biggest relief efforts in history. Desperately needed aid began arriving from around the world this morning, the Washington Post reports. An Air China plane carrying a Chinese search-and-rescue team, medics, and tons of food and medicine landed at Port-au-Prince airport before dawn, along with three French planes with aid and a mobile hospital, officials said. A British relief team arrived in neighboring Dominican Republic, the AP reports.
Bodies lay everywhere in Port-au-Prince, as survivors, many severely injured, set up camps, salvaging mattresses, plastic chairs, bits of cardboard and food from the rubble. Others streamed on foot into the Haitian countryside, where wooden and cinderblock shacks showed little sign of damage, passing ambulances and UN trucks racing in the opposite direction. "This is much worse than a hurricane," said a doctor's assistant working at a makeshift triage center set up in a hotel parking lot. "There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."