Red Cross trucks ‘huge’ medical convoy to Haiti

A mobile clinic of the Red Cross is being loaded onto a cargo plane in Tampere airport, in Finland, on Friday. Mobile clinics were landing in the Dominican Republic and tucking aid into Haiti on Saturday.Veli-matti Parkkinen / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Up to 10 trucks carrying a "huge amount" of aid headed Saturday from the Dominican Republic to quake-struck Haiti, bringing a 50-bed field hospital, surgical teams and an emergency telecommunications unit, the Red Cross said.

The convoy, including contingents from the Norwegian, Finnish, Spanish, Danish and Japanese Red Cross, hopes to arrive in Port-au-Prince in the afternoon, barring any problems, spokesman Paul Conneally said.

The shipments were put on trucks for the overland trip because "it's not possible to fly anything into Port-au-Prince right now," he told The Associated Press by phone from the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. "The airport is completely congested."

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which represent national Red Cross chapters worldwide, will shortly increase its aid appeal for Haiti.

The telephone system in Haiti, damaged in the magnitude-7 quake on Tuesday, has been unable to handle the heavy demand from aid workers and families seeking news of their relatives.

'Most incredible things'
Two larger field hospitals are also on the way. "They're just the most incredible things you've ever seen," said Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman in Geneva.

The World Health Organization said eight hospitals in Port-au-Prince were destroyed or damaged, severely medical treatment in the quake-hit city of 2 million people.

Conneally said some 60 specialists are included, and that the biggest team in the convoy is from the Norwegian Red Cross, which is sending a field hospital along with surgeons and nurses.

The Finns are sending a smaller medical clinic and medical team, and the Spanish are sending water treatment specialists and a telecoms team. The Japanese are sending a basic healthcare team and the Danish will set up a base camp for relief workers.

Cochrane said the Red Cross on Saturday revised its appeal for donations upward to $103 million in anticipation of having to provide relief to 300,000 people over the next three years.