Updated at 3:15 p.m. EST
Aid workers hoping to distribute food, water and other supplies to a shattered Port-au-Prince are warning their efforts may need more security Friday as Haitians grow increasingly desperate and impatient for help.
United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the capital said people's anger is rising that aid hasn't been distributed quickly, and the Brazilian military warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.
"Unfortunately, they're slowly getting more angry and impatient," said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the Brazilian-commanded U.N. peacekeeping mission. "I fear, we're all aware that the situation is getting more tense as the poorest people who need so much are waiting for deliveries. I think tempers might be frayed."
CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that with Haitian police virtually nowhere to be scene following the disaster, and troops from the U.S. still days away, gangs armed with machetes areof Port-au-Prince.
"They are scavenging everything. What can you do?" said Michel Legros, 53, as he waited for help to search for seven relatives buried in his collapsed house. A Russian search-and-rescue team said the looting and general insecurity were forcing them to suspend their efforts after nightfall.
"The situation in the city is very difficult and tense," said team chief Salavat Mingaliyev, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.
With the stench of death and smoke lingering downtown, Port-au-Prince feels like a war zone, says Cobiella. Bodies are strewn everywhere. Families still in shock ask CBS News crews over and over, "Where is the help?"
Hard-pressed government workers, meanwhile, were burying thousands of bodies in mass graves. The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's cataclysmic earthquake. Up to 50 per cent of the buildings in the capital and other hard-hit areas were damaged or destroyed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York.
More and more, the focus fell on the daunting challenge of getting aid to survivors. United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the capital said people's anger was rising that aid hasn't been distributed quickly, and warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.
On Friday morning, no sign was seen of foreign assistance entering the downtown area, other than a U.S. Navy helicopter flying overhead. Poor and blocked roads, airport congestion and other logistical obstacles have slowed the aid delivery.
Ordinary Haitians sensed the potential for an explosion of lawlessness. "We're worried that people will get a little uneasy," said attendant Jean Reynol, 37, explaining his gas station was ready to close immediately if violence breaks out.
"People who have not been eating or drinking for almost 50 hours and are already in a very poor situation," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva. "If they see a truck with something, or if they see a supermarket which has collapsed, they just rush to get something to eat."
The quake's destruction of Port-au-Prince's main prison complicated the security situation. International Red Cross spokesman Marcal Izard said some 4,000 prisoners had escaped and were freely roaming the streets.
"They obviously took advantage of this disaster," Izard said.
But Byrs said peacekeepers were maintaining security despite the challenges. "It's tense but they can cope," she said.
The U.N. World Food Program said post-quake looting of its food supplies long stored in Port-au-Prince appears to have been limited, contrary to an earlier report Friday. It said it would start handing out 6,000 tons of food aid recovered from a damaged warehouse in the city's Cite Soleil slum.
A spokeswoman for the Rome-based agency, Emilia Casella, said the WFP was preparing shipments of enough ready-to-eat meals to feed 2 million Haitians for a month. She noted that regular food stores in the city had been emptied by looters.
More than aat the Port au Prince airport overnight, boosting the U.S. military presence to several hundred on the ground here, and others have arrived off Port-au-Prince harbor on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
U.S. military helicopters began ferrying water and other humanitarian relief supplies from an American aircraft carrier to a relief effort under way at the Port-au-Prince airport in earthquake-shattered Haiti..
Michael Wimbish, a spokesman at the U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Florida said that the critical supplies are being transported from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, which arrived earlier in the day.
A rapid response unit from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division has handed out food, water and medical supplies to Haitians outside the main airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
The unit's commander, Capt. Mike Anderson, says: "We're here to do as much good and as little evil as we can."
A helicopter left the airport with water to distribute, and a reconnaissance helicopter is looking for dropping zones around the capital to move out more aid.
Friday's arrivals added to more than 300 military personnel already there as of Thursday and amounted to the first major influx of military from the United States, which has taken the lead in world efforts to assist the devastated country.
And the number of U.S. troops in the region mayor beyond, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday.
A primary challenge is the badly damaged seaport that will make it difficult for ships - carrying the kinds of mass amounts of supplies and helicopters needed in a natural disaster - to offload their equipment. An assessment team was looking alternatives, including a port the U.S. Coast Guard has been using for some cargo.
Meanwhile, the White House said Friday that the United States has co-ordinated with the Cuban government to speed up the evacuation of injured people. Spokesman Tommy Vietor said Havana authorized the U.S. to fly medical evacuation flights from Guantanamo Bay to Miami through Cuban air space, cutting 90 minutes off the flight time.
In the heart of Port-au-Prince, the need was clear. In a tent city with thousands of displaced people, nurse Marimartha Syrel said she had been there since Tuesday night with no water. "We can't cook food. We can't do anything," she said.
At a window of a water treatment facility, Mary Verna was selling the last few bottles of treated water. The plant won't produce more until electricity is restored to the blacked-out city, she said.
"It's desperate because the water system in Port au Prince beforehand was not very good," said Paul Sherlock, Oxfam's senior humanitarian representative. "When an earthquake happens, any system - no matter how good - is going to have problems: pipes are broken and damaged. We don't know how bad that situation is right now."
Oxfam already had supplies of water in Haiti, left over from a 2008 storm, and has managed to get some 2,000-5,000-liter tanks into Port au Prince, Sherlock said.
At the airport, scores of frantic and exhausted U.S. citizens, along with others stranded there for days,. "We've had people crying, people passing out," said Muriel Sinai, 38, a nurse from Orlando, Fla. U.S. soldiers were sorting out the Americans, but it wasn't clear whether and when they might be flown out.
The U.S. force asserted control over the airport, allowing 200 Americans to be evacuated while blocking similar efforts by French and Canadian officials to get their citizens out, even though a French military plane stood by. Those officials bitterly protested the move. After two hours, the U.S. soldiers lifted their cordon and allowed others through.
Earlier, three U.S. military planes flew more than 250 Americans from Haiti to New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base.
As temperatures rose into the 80s in Port-au-Prince, a stench of death lingered over Port-au-Prince, where countless bodies remained unclaimed in the streets. Hundreds of corpses were stacked outside the city morgue, and limbs of the dead protruded from the rubble of crushed schools and homes.
A few workers were able to free people who had been trapped in the rubble for days.
French firefighters on Thursday pulled three people alive from the ruins of the Montana Hotel after being trapped for more than 50 hours. They were senior staff members of the Maryland-based aid organization IMA World Health, identified by the organization's Douglas Bright as IMA's president, Richard Santos, a vice president, Sarla Chand, and the group's Haiti program manager, Ann Varghese.
They had just finished a meeting at the hotel when the quake struck. But five Haitian employees of the organization were still missing, Bright said.
Driving a yellow backhoe through downtown Friday morning, Norde Pierre Rico said his government crew had cleared one house and found four people alive. But "there's no plan, no dispatch plan," he said, another sign of a lack of coordination and leadership in the rescue and aid efforts in these early days of the crisis.
Experts say people trapped by Tuesday's quake would begin to succumb if they go without water for three or four days.
Haitian President Rene Preval told The Miami Herald that over a 20-hour period, government crews had removed 7,000 corpses from the streets and morgues and buried them in mass graves.
For the long-suffering people of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, shock was giving way to despair.
"We need food. The people are suffering. My neighbors and friends are suffering," said Sylvain Angerlotte, 22. "We don't have money. We don't have nothing to eat. We need pure water."
From Europe, Asia and the Americas, more than 20 governments, the U.N. and private aid groups were sending planeloads of high-energy biscuits and other food, tons of water, tents, blankets, water-purification gear, heavy equipment for removing debris, helicopters and other transport. Hundreds of search-and-rescue, medical and other specialists also headed to Haiti.
The WFP began organizing distribution centers for food and water Thursday, said Kim Bolduc, acting chief of the large U.N. mission in Haiti. She said that "the risk of having social unrest very soon" made it important to move quickly.
Governments and government agencies have pledged about $400 million worth of aid, including $100 million from the United States.
But the global helping hand was slowed by a damaged seaport and an airport that turned away civilian aid planes for eight hours Thursday because of a lack of space and fuel.
At Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport, a stream of U.S. military cargo planes was landing Friday, but they had to circle for an hour before getting clearance to land because the quake destroyed the control tower and radar control, and the U.S. military was using emergency procedures.
Aid workers have been blocked by debris on inadequate roads and by survivors gathered in the open out of fear of aftershocks from the 7.0-magnitude quake and re-entering unstable buildings.
"The physical destruction is so great that physically getting from point A to B with the supplies is not an easy task," Casella, the WFP spokeswoman in Geneva, said at a news conference.
Across the sprawling, hilly city, people milled about in open areas, hopeful for help, sometimes setting up camps amid piles of salvaged goods, including food scavenged from the rubble.
Small groups could be seen burying dead by roadsides. Other dust-covered bodies were dragged down streets, toward hospitals where relatives hoped to leave them. Countless dead remained unburied. Outside one pharmacy, the body of a woman was covered by a sheet, a small bundle atop her, a tiny foot poking from its covering.
Aid worker Fevil Dubien said some people were almost fighting over the water he distributed from a truck in a northern Port-au-Prince neighborhood.
Elsewhere, about 50 Haitians yearning for food and water rushed toward two employees wearing "Food For The Poor" T-shirts as they entered the international agency's damaged building.
"We heard a commotion at the door, knocking at it, trying to get in," said project manager Liony Batista. "'What's going on? Are you giving us some food?' We said, 'Uh-oh.' You never know when people are going over the edge."
Batista said he and others tried to calm the crowd, which eventually dispersed after being told food hadn't yet arrived.
"We're not trying to run away from what we do," Batista said, adding that coordinating aid has been a challenge. "People looked desperate, people looked hungry, people looked lost."