More than 4,000 Marines and sailors on their way to the Persian Gulf and Africa are being diverted to Haiti to assist with recovery and relief efforts, Navy officials said today.
Three amphibious ships and their support vessels sailing out of Norfolk, Va., heading for its regular deployment were told to change course and sail to Haiti instead. The fresh troops will be in addition to the 2,000 Marines already on the ground, who began delivering aid for the first time on Tuesday. The Pentagon says there will be roughly 16,000 U.S. forces in Haiti by the end of the week.
The 6.1-magnitude tremor hit about 36 miles west of Port-au-Prince shortly after 6 a.m., sending people fleeing into the streets. It was a harsh reminder for many who continue to sleep outside in the street and in fields, fearful of going indoors for this very reason.
It was the strongest aftershock since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake all but destroyed Port-au-Prince and some of the surrounding areas.
There are no reports yet of major damage, but the area hit hardest today, Jacmel, sustained heavy damage from last week's earthquake.
In Port-au-Prince, some are beginning to question how much longer the mission to rescue survivors from the rubble will continue before it turns into a recovery effort.
Maj. Gen. Daniel Alynn said Tuesday that his command would soon make that decision.
"We fully expect that we will transition very soon from the search phase to the recovery phase, and obviously we continue to be in prayer," Allyn said.
The State Department confirmed 33 American deaths today in Haiti. Over 6,000 have been evacuated.
Yet people are still being pulled out of the rubble alive. And 8-year-old and a 10-year-old were rescued overnight. And The Associated Press reported today that 26-year-old Lozama Hotteline was carried, smiling and singing, from a collapsed store in the Petionville neighborhood in the early morning hours today.
ABC News visited a hospital in the city of Carrefour, about 10 miles outside Port-au-Prince, where doctors performed amputations using scissors, supplies of anesthesia were alarmingly low, and the injured had been waiting for treatment since the earthquake hit -- 8 days ago.
While relief in the form of food, water and basic medical supplies continues to make its way into Haiti's devastated neighborhoods, many victims are still fighting their way out of the capital city into outlying towns or the Dominican Republic.
For some, the exodus is their only way to get help as tens of thousands of injured Haitians still await medical treatment. One hospital reported that 1,000 patients were waiting for surgery.
At the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, three hours outside the earthquake zone, the scene was stunning.
Victims with untreated broken bones, gaping wounds and severe head injuries lined every bit of the hospital halls. There were more than 500 patients and 80 beds.
A nurse told ABC News the victims were bused in, broken bones and all.
Doctors aboard the USNS Comfort, a 900-foot floating hospital nearing Haiti, have also begun treating their first patients, according to The Associated Press.
Dr. Jon Crocker of Partners in Health posted on the organization's Web site that people who have been lucky enough to survive their injuires so far are now falling victim to ailments such as massive infection and blood clots.
Ian Rawson, head of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, told ABC News' senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser that many of the hospital's employees who had previously been laid off came back after the earthquake to help save their family members.
It's the "biggest demand on this hospital I have ever seen," he said, crying.
It's a demand they don't seem to be able to meet. The hospital is running out of supplies and signs of that shortage are everywhere. They're out of crutches and running dangerously low on antibiotics. The only pain medication left is a small amount of Motrin.
"I wish we could get some medicine, some pain medicine and antibiotics," Rawson said. "These people are enduring horrible pain."
Dr. Emmanuel Fransoise, an orthopedic surgeon, hasn't left the hospital since Sunday night. He has already performed more than 20 surgeries and had dozens yet to go. He said he's not willing to give up.
"We are Haitian, we have hope," he said, adding that hope comes "from the inside."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.