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First rescue flight to bring Floridians back from Haiti lands in Orlando

Florida Division of Emergency Management
In this image posted on social media by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, 14 people arrive from Haiti at Orlando Sanford International Airport on Wednesday, March 21, 2024.

The state Division of Emergency Management said a plane carrying 14 people landed Wednesday evening at Orlando Sanford International Airport.

Florida began moving forward Wednesday with flights to evacuate people from strife-torn Haiti.

The first of those planes landed at Orlando Sanford International Airport, according to the state's Division of Emergency Management.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said the flight with 14 people, including children, had departed the troubled Caribbean nation.

“There's people that are in parts of Haiti that are dangerous,” DeSantis said at airport. “We have personnel on the ground that are helping them get where they need to be.”

The Division of Emergency Management last week launched an online portal for Floridians and Americans looking to get out of Haiti amid the nation’s escalating instability.

Guthrie said about 500 Americans and 360 Floridians had contacted the state about evacuating.

Since Saturday, the U.S. government has arranged charter flights from Haiti to the U.S. for people with valid passports.

DeSantis said that unlike the federal charter flights, Florida is covering people’s costs.

Guthrie said the state is also working to get people from where they have been staying to an undisclosed airfield in Haiti.

The flights come as the state has increased deployments of law-enforcement officers, National Guard members and State Guard members to South Florida in anticipation of a surge in migrants from Haiti.

Updated: March 21, 2024 at 7:25 AM EDT
This story has been updated with the flight landing.
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