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Chaos, prayer, frustration abound in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Prayers of thanksgiving and cries for help rose from Haiti's huddled homeless Sunday, the sixth day of an epic humanitarian crisis that was straining the world's ability to respond and igniting flare-ups of violence amid the rubble of Port-au-Prince.

Haitian police struggled to scatter hundreds of looters in the city's Vieux Marche. Elsewhere downtown, amid the smoke from bonfires burning uncollected bodies, gunfire rang out and bands of machete-wielding young men roamed the streets.

A reliable death toll may be weeks away, but the Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in the 7.0-magnitude tremor, and Haitian officials believe the number is higher.

Beside the ruins of the Port-au-Prince cathedral, where the sun streamed through the shattered stained glass, the priest told his flock at their first Sunday Mass since Tuesday's earthquake, "We are in the hands of God now." But anger mounted hourly that other helping hands were slow in getting food and water to millions in need. "We're a kilometer [a half-mile] from the airport and we're going to die of hunger," Jacqueline Thermiti, 71, said outside a destroyed nursing home.

Water was delivered to more people around the capital, where an estimated 300,000 displaced were living outdoors. But food and medicine were still scarce. The crippled city choked on the stench of death and shook with yet another aftershock Sunday.

"This is one of the most serious crises in decades," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he flew into the Haitian capital. "The damage, destruction and loss of life are just overwhelming."

The UN World Food Program was "pretty well on target to reach more than 60,000 people today," up from 40,000 the previous day, WFP spokesman David Orr said. But UN officials said they must raise that to 2 million within a month.

Rajiv Shah, chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told "Fox News Sunday" he believed the United States distributed 130,000 "meals ready to eat" on Saturday, but the need was much larger. "We're really trying to address it," he said.

Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders said the "major difficulty" was the bottleneck at the airport, under U.S. military control. French, Brazilian and other officials had earlier complained about the U.S.-run airport's refusal to allow their supply planes to land. A WFP official told The New York Times that the Americans' priorities were out of sync, allowing too many U.S. military flights and too few aid deliveries.

The U.S. commander in Haiti, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, acknowledged the bottleneck problem. "We're working aggressively to open up other ways to get in here. The ports are part of that," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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