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US military relief planes en route to Haiti, rest of region to refuel in Kingston

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2016 | 1:43 PM
Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

 

Jamaica has given the United States military "blanket air and sea port facility clearance" to help bring humanitarian relief to regional territories like Haiti affected by the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

A release this afternoon from the US Embassy in Kingston said clearance will last for however long the relief efforts last.

Five US aircraft, from the US Joint Task Force Bravo based at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras en route to Haiti with 65 personnel will refuel at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Those aircraft are expected to expected to land 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

"The purpose of the mission is to establish US Task Force Headquarters in order to command and control US Forces preparing to deploy from the US and region that will conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations", read the statement. 

"The Embassy, in coordination with a visiting Disaster Assistance Response Team from the US Agency for International Development’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), provided of J$12.8 million to local partners in support of emergency preparedness efforts. 

USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader Tim Callaghan, he  who is en route to Haiti to lead the response efforts there, praised Jamaica's response to the Matthew.

“We applaud the Government of Jamaica and in particular the Office of Disaster Preparedness assistance and Emergency Management for coordinating the response and putting Jamaica on a solid footing to respond to any impacts.”

Rescue workers in Haiti have struggled to reach cutoff towns and learn the full extent of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew as the storm began battering the Bahamas today and triggered evacuations along the US East Coast.

At least 11 deaths had been blamed on the powerful storm during its week-long march across the Caribbean, five of them in Haiti.

But with a key bridge washed out, roads impassable and phone communications down, the western tip of Haiti was isolated and there was no word on dead and injured.