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More Humanitarian Flights Arrive in Burma

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2008 – More American aircraft delivered desperately needed supplies to Burmese affected by Cyclone Nargis, but the aid is a fraction of what’s needed, Defense and State department officials said today.

Yesterday, four Air Force C-130 relief flights landed in Rangoon, and today five C-130s made the trip.

The aircraft delivered water, plastic sheeting, mosquito netting, hygiene kits, rice, rations, blankets and clean water containers, officials said.

To date, the Burmese military junta has allowed 26 American flights into the country, carrying more than 615,000 pounds of supplies.

The official Cyclone Nargis death toll now stands at 78,000, with another 56,000 Burmese missing. United Nations officials put the number of those affected at 2.5 million, including 1 million children.

Officials around the world worry that if the Burmese junta does not allow more aid to reach the Irrawaddy River delta, deaths from secondary effects – starvation, exposure, water-borne diseases – will skyrocket.

The United Nations sent John Holmes, its humanitarian affairs chief, to Burma in an effort to open the country up to more aid.

The United States is slated to send more aircraft into Rangoon tomorrow. U.S. ships remain off the coast of Burma, waiting for permission to go ashore. The USS Essex group, alone, carries 41,000 five-gallon containers of water and hundreds of pallets of supplies. The group also has the ability to land the supplies where they are needed most, DoD officials said.

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