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Needs, chaos mount in quake-ravaged Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The staggering scope of Haiti's nightmare came into sharper focus yesterday as authorities estimated 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless in the heart of this land, where injured survivors still died in the streets, doctors pleaded for help and looters slashed at one another in the rubble.

The world pledged more money, food, medicine and police. Some 2,000 U.S. Marines streamed into nearby waters. And former president Bill Clinton, special UN envoy, flew in to offer support.

But hour by hour the unmet needs of hundreds of thousands grew.

"Have we been abandoned? Where is the food?" shouted one man, Jean Michel Jeantet, in a downtown street.

The UN World Food Program said it expected to boost operations from feeding 67,000 people on Sunday to 97,000 yesterday. But it needs 100 million prepared meals over the next 30 days, and it appealed for more government donations.

"I know that aid cannot come soon enough," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York after returning from Haiti. "Unplug the bottlenecks," he urged.

In one step to reassure frustrated aid groups, the U.S. military agreed to give aid deliveries priority over military flights at the now-U.S.-run airport here, the WFP announced in Rome. The Americans' handling of civilian flights had angered some humanitarian officials.

Sunday's looting and violence raged into yesterday, as hundreds clambered over the broken walls of shops to grab anything they could - including toothpaste, now valuable for lining nostrils against the stench of Port-au-Prince's dead. Police fired into the air as young men fought each other over rum and beer with broken bottles and machetes.

Hard-pressed medical teams sometimes had to take time away from quake victims to deal with gunshot wounds, said Loris de Filippi of Doctors Without Borders. In the Montrissant neighborhood, Red Cross doctors worked in shipping containers and said they "cannot cope" after having lost 50 patients over two days, said international Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno.

The latest casualty report, from the European Commission citing Haitian government figures, increased doubled previous estimates of the dead from the magnitude-7.0 quake, to about 200,000. If accurate, that would make Haiti's catastrophe about as deadly as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed an estimated 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

European Commission analysts also estimate about 1.5 million are homeless. Masses are living under plastic sheets in makeshift camps and in dust-covered automobiles, or had taken to the road seeking out relatives in the safer countryside.

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