PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — More than 500 people fleeing the violence engulfing Afghanistan have arrived in Philadelphia, officials said. City officials said Sunday afternoon that 505 total evacuees came through Philadelphia International Airport on two aircraft Saturday.
Several hundred more evacuees were anticipated Sunday on three aircraft but “this remains fluid and is subject to change,” officials said.READ MORE: 'Most Egregious Story I've Ever Heard': Local Man Has Prostate Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis
We anticipate #OperationAlliesRefugePHL picking up speed in the coming days and appreciate the public’s support by way of volunteering and donating in the recommended ways: https://t.co/ya1tIEjVg1 pic.twitter.com/jeXvTmGCtx
— Jim #VaxUpPhilly Kenney (@PhillyMayor) August 29, 2021
City, state and federal agencies, as well as hospitals and nonprofits, are providing food, comfort items and hygiene products as well as a medical evaluation “that includes a required COVID test, physical and mental health support services, and the opportunity to get a COVID vaccination,” officials said.
On Saturday night, a large terminal in the Philadelphia International Airport was transformed into a makeshift welcome center for those fleeing violence.
CBS3 received a walkthrough of Terminal A East on Saturday night to see how the process works when Afghan refugees land at the Philadelphia International Airport.
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— Alecia Reid (@alecia__reid) August 29, 2021
Officials say upwards of 75 to 100 agencies, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Wawa, are taking part in helping resettle the Afghan refugees. It’s called Operation Allies Refuge – PHL.
Volunteers have been at the airport for hours setting up culturally appropriate food, supplies and hygiene products. The baggage claim area has been transformed into a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site, in addition to a medical triage section.
Volunteer interpreters who can help with Dari, Pashto, Urdu, or Farsi are being sought.
“I’m very pleased with the high level of coordination occurring at PHL Airport to best welcome Afghan evacuees into our country,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I thank all of the City departments involved as well as state and federal agencies, local hospitals, non-profit partners, and volunteers who have stepped up to aid our Afghan brothers and sisters during this critical time. We anticipate this operation picking up speed in the coming days and appreciate the public’s support by way of volunteering and donating in the recommended ways.”
Refugees are also being taken to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in southern New Jersey, which has a capacity for 3,500 evacuees and received 1,192 Afghans since Wednesday, according to U.S. Northern Command Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 27, 2021
The military hopes to expand the capacity there to 10,000, part of an effort to expand nationwide capacity to 50,000 by Sept. 15, VanHerck said.WATCH: Surveillance Video Catches Olney Drive-By Shooting That Killed 1, Injured 5
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.