Haiti’s temblor, with a magnitude of 7.0, hit near the capital of Port-au-Prince Tuesday afternoon. Some have described the scene as reminiscent of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York. Hundreds of thousands of people could be dead, Haitian officials say.
According to the estimates of relief organizations, as many as 3 million people could be affected – about a third of the country’s population.
“This is a significant effort across the board,” Fraser said. But much is still unknown. “The bottom to it is we don’t have a clear assessment right now of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within Port-au-Prince are, [and] how extensive the situation is,” he said.
The international response has been fairly immediate, but US officials are still mainly in assessment mode. It is important, Fraser said, to get a good sense of what is needed before sending assets that may be unnecessary.
If Haitians grow more desperate, there could be the threat of civil unrest, which would further challenge the country’s stability.
As many as 2,200 marines with a Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C., could be sent on the large-deck amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, depending on the results of the initial assessments, defense officials say. Also, an Army brigade with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., is on call for whatever security situation could develop.