Bodies everywhere, no food, no gov't - 'Haiti has collapsed'

Israeli Ambassador Amos Radian describes 'worst horrors I've seen'; Obama pledges: 'You will not be forsaken'; Israeli teams hope to find survivors.

Internationalefforts to scramble aid relief to Haiti have been stymied bytransportation bottlenecks and the near-total collapse of localgovernment in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck theCaribbean nation's capital on Tuesday night.
The death toll wasestimated on Thursday at between 40,000 and 50,000 by the internationalRed Cross, though the real number remains unknown.
Israel wasrushing rescue forces to the poverty-stricken nation. Two El Al planestook off from Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday night carrying a121-member delegation that includes 40 doctors, five search-and-rescueteams, and a K9 rescue squad from the army's Oketz unit. The IDFmedical teams are preparing to spend two weeks in Haiti and to see anaverage of 500 patients a day, Chief IDF Medical Corps OfficerBrig.-Gen. Nahman Ash said on Thursday.
OCHome Front Command Brig.-Gen. Shalom Ben-Aryeh, head of the delegation,said there was hope that the search-and-rescue teams would stillsucceed in rescuing people trapped beneath the rubble. He said that thepictures from Haiti were reminiscent of the last rescue mission Israellaunched to India in 2002.
Amos Radian, Israel's ambassador tothe neighboring Dominican Republic, arrived in Port-au-Prince onWednesday and began sending reports back to the Foreign Ministry inJerusalem. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post following a five-hour hike across the decimated capital, he related horrors "the likes of which I have never seen in my life."
"Thereis a strange quiet in the streets," he said. "Thousands of people aresitting in the middle of the street afraid to enter the buildings. Thecity is destroyed. You see corpses lying alongside every street corner.People are wandering aimlessly. It's a very difficult sight, and nobodyis there to help. I passed a poor residential area, and you could seethat the entire mountainside turned into an avalanche and every lasthome was destroyed," he related.
Passing the collapsed remainsof the Montana Hotel, Radian spoke to an American rescue worker whosaid there was a US diplomat trapped under the rubble who had survivedthe quake and was sending SMS messages to his family in the UnitedStates.
While the rubble stretched for as far as he could see,"I didn't notice a single ambulance or rescue crew in many hours ofwalking. Going by what I saw in the city, people will be trapped underthose ruins for many days."
There are sites, the ambassador said, "that the rescue forces will probably never reach."
The situation was worsened by the complete collapse of the country's communications system.
"Millionsof people have been left with no communications. I myself have beenworking with a satellite phone I borrowed from a friend in theDominican Republic that I brought with me," he said.
Worse, the earthquake seems to have also led to the near-total collapse of government.
"Thereis no water, no food, no fuel, and no central government to bringorder. The entire law enforcement system has collapsed. Hospitals arein ruins. There is complete anarchy. We don't know who's running thecountry. Local government is nonexistent."
The United States hasstepped into this vacuum, Radian explained, establishing a fieldcontrol tower at Port-au-Prince airport in place of the one destroyedin the quake, and shipping in thousands of troops and millions ofdollars to begin the painful process of restoring order and rescuingthose buried under the rubble.
As many as 5,500 Americaninfantry soldiers and Marines will be on the ground or on shipsoffshore by Monday, a US Defense Department official said. More than ahalf dozen ships were heading there on Thursday or preparing to getunder way, said spokesman Bryan Whitman. They included the aircraftcarrier USS Carl Vinson, to arrive on Friday, and a hospital ship with 12 operating rooms, the USNS Comfort, expected by January 22.
Thefirst US Army troops from the 82nd Airborne Division were expected toarrive late on Thursday. About 100 troops will find locations to set uptents and make other preparations for the arrival of roughly 800personnel from the division on Friday and a full brigade of some 3,500by the end of the weekend, Whitman said.
They come on top of some 2,200 Marines, also to arrive by Sunday or Monday.
Secretaryof State Hillary Rodham Clinton called it a major effort to providesecurity, search and rescue, and delivery of humanitarian supplies.
Administrationofficials said deployment was slowed by badly damaged roads, airport,port and communications. President Barack Obama, who promised that"more help is on the way," also warned it would take hours "and in manycases days" to get the full US contingent on the ground. "You will notbe forsaken," Obama pledged. "In this, the hour of your greatest need,America stands with you. The world stands with you."
"The UnitedStates is providing a lot of the glue that is keeping peoplecommunicating and working together as we try to assert authority,reinstate the government and begin to do what governments have to do torebuild and reconstruct this damaged country," Clinton said in aninterview on Fox News.
And P.J. Crowley, her spokesman, stressedthat while US troops sent to Haiti will be under US command, they arethere primarily to support the United Nations' 9,000-memberpeacekeeping mission and to do what it is asked by the Haitians.
"We'renot taking over Haiti," he said. "We are helping to stabilize Haiti,we're helping to provide them lifesaving support and materiel and we'regoing to be there over the long-term to help Haiti rebuild."
"Weassume that in the first stage we will deal with trauma patients," saidthe IDF's Brig.-Gen. Ash, "and then the next round will be peoplesuffering from infections and secondary illnesses."
The field hospital, he added, would have surgery rooms, and several beds in an Intensive Care Unit.
Theplanes will land on Friday and the field hospital will likely beginoperations on Saturday. A security detail of combat troops is alsobeing sent to provide security for the Israeli delegation.
Membersof the delegation received vaccinations on Thursday to prepare them forthe country's poor medical infrastructure, Ash said.
"Wehave experience that after several days it is still possible to rescuepeople," said Ben-Aryeh, adding that one of the first missions once theteams arrived would be to search for an Israeli woman who is stillmissing.
A police forensics unit is also set to depart for Haiti on Friday morning to assist in the identification of casualties.
Theteam will be led by Ch.-Insp. Dr. Zipi Kahana, a forensics expert, aswell as fingerprints expert FSM Ze'ev Segel, and other experts.
The team will be equipped with tools to allow for a comparison of teeth and fingerprint samples taken from bodies.
According to the Israeli branch of UNICEF, some 46 percent of Haiti's population of 10 million are younger than 18.
"Thespecial needs of children for food, shelter and protection have to bethe top concern of the aid efforts," the organization said in astatement on Thursday.
UNICEF Israel, together with other Israeli and Diaspora Jewish groups, is calling for urgent funds to help rescue efforts.
"Weunderstand that the most urgent need right now is to restoreinfrastructure related to health," said Shachar Zahavi of IsraAID, anIsraeli coalition of humanitarian and rescue groups that is sending a15-member team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and logistics experts tohelp the international aid efforts.
"During the earthquake, thewater infrastructure broke and spilled into the sewage system. Thecrisis here is not just about the wounded, but about the comingdiseases," he said.
The IsraAID team will report back on the specific needs of the country.
"Wedon't have huge budgets, so we're not going to be financing hundreds oftons of food, or send fleets of ships to the country. We need to focuson things where Israel can offer its special expertise. In the fieldsof emergency medicine, search-and-rescue, post-trauma counseling andwater purification are uniquely advanced in Israel. We're also talkingto some hi-tech companies with expertise in restoring collapsedcommunications networks."
IsraAID's work is being funded by acoalition of North American Jewish groups, including the JewishFederation of Toronto, the American Jewish Committee and B'nai B'rithInternational.
Other groups, such as the American Jewish JointDistribution Committee and the American Jewish World Service, aresending money and assistance through the International Red Cross andother aid agencies.
Meanwhile, Radian is charged withcoordinating the Israeli efforts in Port-au-Prince. The internationalaid effort, though unprecedented in proportions, has been a "drop inthe ocean," he said.
Meeting Haiti's president, Rene Preval, hereported that "this was a deeply shaken man. He got out of thecollapsing National Palace by the skin of his teeth. He didn't seem thesame strong, humorous man I'd known in the past."
"Everyone I'mspeaking to is saying that Haiti was already a place mistreated by fatethat was barely holding its head above water. It will take more thandays or even months to recover from this disaster."
Yaakov Katz, Yaakov Lappin and AP contributed to this report.