US military planes arrive at epicenter of Ebola

US soldiers arriving in Monrovia, Liberia

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US soldiers arriving in Monrovia, Liberia
US soldiers arriving in Monrovia, Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia: Six U.S. military planes arrived in the Ebola hot zone Thursday with more Marines, as West Africa’s leaders pleaded for the world’s help in dealing with a crisis already dubbed “a tragedy unforeseen in modern times.”

“Our people are dying,” Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma lamented by videoconference at a World Bank meeting in Washington. He said other countries are not responding fast enough while children are orphaned and infected doctors and nurses are lost to the disease.

Guinea President Alpha Conde said the region’s countries are in “a very fragile situation.” Ebola is “an international threat and deserves an international response,” he said.

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The President was speaking through a translator as he sought money, medicine, equipment and training for health care workers.

The fleet of planes that landed outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia consisted of four MV-22 Ospreys and two KC-130s. The 100 additional Marines bring to just over 300 the total number of American troops in the country, said Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the commander leading the U.S. response.

So far, the outbreak has killed more than 3,800 people, according to the latest World Health Organization figures. The vast majority of those deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The U.S. military is working to build medical centers in Liberia and may send up to 4,000 soldiers to help with the Ebola crisis. Medical workers and beds for Ebola patients are sorely lacking.