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US Military Helping Build Temporary Hospital in Haiti

Commander of the U.S. Southern Command General Douglas Fraser (undated photo)
Commander of the U.S. Southern Command General Douglas Fraser (undated photo)

The U.S. military says it is working with the Haitian government to build a temporary medical facility for Haitian earthquake victims recovering from injuries.

The Commander of the U.S. Southern Command General Douglas Fraser said Thursday that the facility will have an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 beds and will dramatically improve the capacity of the medical care being provided.

He said the U.S. Navy hospital ship, the Comfort, is reaching its care limit as some injuries have required more treatment than anticipated. He said the new facility would give discharged patients the space and time they need to recover.

General Fraser said efforts to supply victims with food are also falling short in some cases. He said though the situation in Haiti is improving, troops are still finding places where more than two weeks after the January 12 quake, relief has not yet arrived.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the situation remains "precarious" for hundreds of thousands of people. The head of the group's delegation in Haiti, Riccardo Conti, says people in the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince still have pressing needs for shelter, food, health care and sanitation.

On Wednesday, a French rescue team pulled a teenage girl alive from under the rubble in the capital, 15 days after the earthquake leveled much of the city.

The rescuers say they found the girl, severely dehydrated, in a pocket surrounded by concrete. It was not clear whether she became trapped during the initial earthquake or an aftershock.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that the U.N. mission in Haiti and U.N. agencies are working around the clock to help Haitians affected by the quake, which left an estimated 200,000 people dead. 

He said 150 health centers and hospitals have been set up and are running in Port-au-Prince.

However, the secretary-general voiced the need for tents and shelter for the estimated one million Haitians left homeless following the 7.0-magnitude quake.  He also appealed for support of a recently announced "cash-for-work" program aimed at putting more than 200,000 Haitians to work to rebuild their country.

Officials estimate it will take at least 10 years to rebuild Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
 

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