US military suspends medical evacuations from Haiti to US
The US military has suspended evacuation flights of wounded Haitians to Florida and other states after Florida Governor Charlie Crist asked Washington to help pay for the cost of medical care, according to media reports Saturday.
In an interview with CNN Saturday, Crist denied that he had asked the military to stop the evacuations and was still trying to get an answer from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius about support, dpa reported.
The New York Times reported Saturday that the US military had suspended the C-130 flights that have transported more than 500 earthquake victims to Florida alone.
The Defence Department could not be reached for comment.
The US government has medical teams on the ground in Haiti who have seen more than 18,500 patients, Sebelius' department said Friday. The US military has also seen thousands of patients on board the USS Comfort and the USS Vinson, anchored offshore from the destroyed Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
The US military is collaborating with the Haitian government and the United Nations to provide security and logistics support in delivering aid and medical help to the city of 1.9 million people.
An estimated 800,000 people have been left homeless, and more than 250,000 people were believed seriously wounded when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake shattered haiti on January 12.
The Haitian government has updated its death toll estimate to 180,000.
The Times quoted Major James Lowe, deputy chief of public affairs for the US Transportation Command, as saying that the places Haitian wounded "were being taken, without being specific, were not willing to continue to receive those patients without a different arrangement being worked out by the government to pay for the care."
Florida hospital officials denied to the Miami Herald newspaper Saturday that they were refusing to accept more Haitian patients.
Dr William O'Neill, executive dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, told the Herald that his hospital was "still willing to take people even if we don't know who is going to pay."