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Arriving Port-au-Prince, Earthquake Damage Can be Seen Everywhere


As rescue operations accelerated to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti, correspondent Brian Wagner flew into Port-au-Prince Wednesday to begin covering the story for VOA. He did not have to travel far to give a detailed account of the devastation, which damaged the city's airport. Here are his first impressions of the severe impact of the earthquake:

Our small plane landed in Port-au-Prince shortly before twilight. Getting into Haiti has been extremely difficult because there has been a lot of confusion about whether the airport here in Port-Au-Prince is operational.

Several people told us that only planes carrying humanitarian aid, doctors, supplies or journalists were allowed to enter the country.

From the air as we approached Port-au-Prince, we could see buildings damaged. Around some blocks of houses we could see large piles of concrete debris which we assume was gathered after the earthquake and set aside.

Here at the airport, you can see there is significant damage to the airport terminal--large cracks to the facade, inside some of the ceiling is torn, ripped away. Water pipes have broken, it is completely not operational.

There are a number of crews and planes from countries--Brazil, the United States, Canada, Iceland.

Here at the airport there are also a number of people trying to leave. I talked to one student, Vadim Stafanyek, who is with a religious mission group trying to get out of the country. He said he was traveling in a truck when the quake hit on Tuesday.

"I heard things crashing, I heard things falling. There was a three story building in front of us that collapsed and a three story building behind of us that collapsed, and then our guys jumped up on the roof of one building to try to help one of the guys to pull a woman out, who could not get her out, then we saw a couple of people bring a ladder to one of the floors to get people out.

When we walked back to the pastor's house... there were bodies lying on the road, there was one woman holding a baby, I mean quite a lot of bodies, a lot of screaming, a lot of panic, a lot of people confused on what to do with the roads, a lot of roads got blocked off," the student said.

As the night falls here in Port-au-Prince we can see that there are still large parts of the city without any electricity. Many people say it is very dangerous to leave the airport area because of the lack of electricity and rubble still in the streets.

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