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At Airport, Aid Flows In But Trickles Out

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At Airport, Aid Flows In But Trickles Out

At Airport, Aid Flows In But Trickles Out

At Airport, Aid Flows In But Trickles Out

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/122669127/122669408" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Aid from around the world continued to flow into Haiti's small airport on Sunday, but bottlenecks kept supplies from reaching tens of thousands of Haitians waiting in makeshift camps or wandering the streets in search of help.

Two huge cargo planes from China landed at the airport Sunday morning. And helicopters from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division were taking off, loaded with shipments of food and water to be delivered to devastated areas around the country.

But the relief group Doctors Without Borders says a cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. The plane was diverted to an airport in the Dominican Republic. The charity says the supplies are being trucked in over land, delaying their arrival by 24 hours.

Aid Is Flowing In

Among the planes that were allowed to fly in on Saturday were carriers from from Canada, Nicaragua and even as far away as Qatar. They taxied down the airport's single runway and lined up on the tarmac to unload water, medical supplies and food.

And two huge Argentine military cargo jets filled with aid stopped in front of the badly damaged main terminal. Four U.N. trucks pulled up behind the jets and dozens of soldiers quickly began pulling boxes of canned meat out and heaving them up to the flat beds.

Argentine soldier Dario Lillja threw boxes up to the truck as fast as he could, working up quite a sweat. He says Haiti is worth the hard work and he'd do anything for the country. Lillja and his army company have been here working in the U.N. mission since last year. He says it's heartbreaking to watch such suffering and not be able to help. This is the first shipment from Argentina to make it in.

Lillja says he's relieved now that aid is finally flowing. He says it's still not enough — the people deserve so much more.

Airport Conditions Safer

Pilot Max Vargas dropped off a plane load of doctors from the Dominican Republic. He says operations are going more smoothly.

"The Americans, especially the military, they took control of the air traffic system and now it is very much improved — much safer," Vargas says.

Conditions at the airport were not without problems. Brazil and France complained that the U.S. military had denied landing permission for a couple of flights.

During a quick tour of the airport Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that the Haitians are in charge.

"We are here at the invitation of your government to help you," she said. "And I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people and you have been severely tested, but I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future."

Clinton flew in on a C-130 cargo plane full of water and packaged meals for Haitians, along with shampoo, soap and other supplies for staff at the U.S. Embassy. She flew back home with 50 Americans.

Foreigners Make It Out, Praise God

Hundreds more stranded foreigners also made it out of Haiti, including a group of missionaries from Iowa who waited more than 6 hours in the hot sun for a flight home.

The women not only praised God, but also the U.S. soldiers who handed out ice-cold sodas to ease the long wait.

By 4 p.m., 200 Americans, Haitians and other foreigners were climbing into the belly of a huge empty military cargo plane. Military personnel directed the passengers onto the floor, where they would sit cross legged for the three-hour flight back to Miami.

Gennie Hess, one of the missionaries from Iowa, says she is so glad to be going home.

"It feels wonderful," she says. "Sitting down I've had my Coke and I'm on a roll."

She says the first thing she will do at home is take a long shower.