Friday, January 15, 2010

Briefing Skipper: Foreign Service Officer killed in Haiti


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 1/14/10

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Tuesday's briefing by acting deputy spokesman P.J. Crowley:

  • Victoria DeLong, a Cultural Affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, died in the collapse of her home following the earthquake in Haiti. Her next of kin have been notified. DeLong served in Haiti since February 2009 and at the State Department since November 1983.
  • "It's a tragedy for the State Department and for our family in the public diplomacy and public affairs world," said Crowley, "Some of you who are old timers here, she did previously serve in our Bureau of Public Affairs during her career."
  • There are now 8 search and rescue teams on the ground, from the U.S., Spain, Iceland, and Chile. 2 people have been successfully pulled out of the rubble. 30 countries have assistance either in Haiti or on the way. Elements of the 82nd airborne are on the way to supplement the UN force.
  • The airport is running 24/7 but there's only one runway so sometimes flights and landings have to be delayed a couple hours to make room on the ramp. U.S. Air traffic controllers arrived last night and are running the show. Between 300 and 400 people were evacuated out using the airport Thursday and seven injured have been taken to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for treatment, including the Spanish ambassador.
  • The ports are still unusable but the U.S. Government is developing other options, such as rotary aircraft drops, having ships hover offshore and using small boat transports, and repairing roads to get supplies in. The U.S. Also brought in communications equipment to get the Haitian government functioning again and to allow them to communicate with the Haitian people.
  • The State Department has been in regular contact with the Haitian President Rene Preval and the Haitian embassy in Washington. Ambassador Ken Merten met with Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive Thursday to consult on the ongoing efforts.
  • What about rioting? "There has been some minor looting, but... all things considered, you know, we haven't seen the kind of, you know, civil unrest that you have seen in previous situations like this," Crowley said.
  • What about the refugees? "I think we're getting ahead of the game here."
  • How many dead? "The short answer is, we don't know yet."


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