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Another plane carrying US citizens fleeing Haiti lands in Florida

By Sarah Dewberry, Jennifer Hansler, Christina Maxouris and Eva Rothenberg, CNN

New York (CNN) — A plane carrying 21 Americans fleeing Haiti arrived in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday night, the latest in a series of US-chartered flights from the embattled Caribbean nation, which has descended into chaos amid rampant gang violence and political instability.

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management announced the plane’s arrival on Sunday, noting that, to date, a total of 35 Americans have been “rescued by state-coordinated emergency flights.”

According to the agency, those who landed in Orlando had access to numerous resources, including meals and water, lodging, transportation, basic health and medical screenings, phones and ID replacement services.

“The Division is working around the clock through every available avenue to get our residents home,” Executive Director Kevin Guthrie said in a news release. “Governor (Ron) DeSantis directed us to tackle every challenge in our path and not stop until the mission is complete.”

DeSantis issued an executive order on March 15 declaring a state of emergency in Florida after the agency received numerous requests from Floridians who were stranded in Haiti.

Hundreds of US citizens remain in Haiti and nearly 1,000 had filled out crisis intake forms as of March 19, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel previously told CNN. That number includes people who either want to leave or want to receive more information from US officials.

The first Florida-organized flight brought 14 people from Haiti to Orlando Sanford International Airport last week. Guthrie had said on Wednesday roughly 360 Floridians remain in Haiti.

Federal officials have also been working to evacuate American citizens. On March 17, the State Department said it flew dozens of Americans from Cap-Haitien, a city on Haiti’s north coast, to Miami. On Wednesday, the State Department said it expects more than 30 Americans will be able to board the US government flights each day they are chartered.

Americans on these flights must agree to reimburse the US government for the cost, which the State Department has said won’t exceed the price of a reasonable commercial flight before the crisis. DeSantis said people traveling on the plane that landed in Florida would not be charged.

Conditions in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have grossly deteriorated amid the unprecedented assault, which pushed Prime Minister Ariel Henry to announce his resignation. Criminal groups have choked off the city’s supply of food, fuel and water, and blocked access to the port and roads leading out of the city, leaving residents to shelter in their homes as the streets become grounds for urban warfare between the gangs and Haiti’s National Police.

Most Haitians don’t have the option to leave.

A small class of wealthy foreigners and diplomats are among the few able to charter private evacuation helicopters out of the city. Hundreds of people have put their names on lists to flee Port-au-Prince by air, several pilots told CNN last week, when seats on private flights had price tags as high as $10,000.

Typically packed streets of the capital have become ghostlands as residents rarely leave their homes due to the threat of violence, CNN crews have reported. Attacks and arson have also displaced thousands of people who have cowded into dozens of displacement camps across the city.

As vital food and water supplies dwindle, the United Nations said it was working to set up an air bridge between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to bring necessities to the city.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Colin McCullough, Alisha Ebrahimji, Jillian Sykes, Denise Royal, Carlos Suarez, Caitlin Hu, David Culver, Evelio Contreras, Michael Conte and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

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Inside the Haitian capital as gangs battle for control, sparking a severe shortage of food.
05:42 – Source: CNN



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