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Doctors and aid workers fly out to assist in massive relief effort

AN Aer Lingus jet carrying a team of doctors, aid workers and 25 tonnes of medical and food supplies will arrive in the Dominican Republic tonight as part of Ireland's emergency response to the Haitian earthquake disaster.

The airlift is part of a massive outpouring of support from Ireland for the millions of people facing death and starvation in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

Irish aid agency GOAL will tomorrow morning begin ferrying the aid and workers overland to the capital Port-au-Prince from the neighbouring part of the island.

It will be the third consignment of vital aid distributed by GOAL following the successful distribution of supplies in the disaster zone yesterday and Wednesday.

More than 80 tonnes of blankets, plastic sheeting, water and tents were delivered to Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, even though the area was struck by a strong aftershock on the same day.

The supplies will provide shelter and basic infrastructure for a total of 8,000 families in Port-au-Prince.

Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, last night paid tribute to "the extraordinary generosity of the public" to the disaster.

"Millions of euros have been donated at a time when many people are feeling the effects of the recession, have lost their jobs or seen their salaries reduced," he said.

"I commend each and every member of the public who has contributed. Their support will mean the difference between life and death for many of those suffering the effects of this disaster."

The Government has also pledged close to €3m in direct aid through the overseas development agency Irish Aid in conjunction with NGOs and the Red Cross.

An electrical engineer, an IT expert and a security consultant will also join the aid workers as part of Irish Aid's Rapid Response Corps. Others with specialised skills in engineering, logistics and water and sanitation are expected to join them.

Irish Independent