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More Relief Flights Reach Burma; U.S. Assets Stand By

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2008 – The Air Force has flown 70 humanitarian missions to Burma in support of the relief effort for Cyclone Nargis victims, Defense officials said here today.

Over Memorial Day weekend, five C-130 flights per day arrived at Rangoon International Airport and delivered supplies.

To date, Air Force relief flights have delivered 409 pallets containing water, blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito netting, plastic sheeting for shelter, food, rice, plywood and medical supplies. The total weight is 637.27 metric tons.

Burma’s ruling military junta decided last week to allow international aid workers into the nation, and news reports indicate these workers are now reaching the Irrawaddy River delta -- the hardest hit area of the nation. Burmese authorities said the toll from the cyclone, which struck May 3, is 77,738 deaths and 55,917 missing. U.S. Air Force flights began flying into the stricken country May 12, but American officials must receive clearance for each flight that lands in Rangoon.

The United States has about a dozen cargo aircraft and a dozen heavy-lift and medium-lift helicopters in neighboring Thailand. The USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Mustin and USS Juneau remain on hold in the Bay of Bengal. The Navy ships have 14 helicopters aboard. The ships could deliver relief supplies to millions of people, but Burmese authorities refuse to let them in, U.S. officials said.

“For now, U.S. personnel and equipment will remain in Thailand as well as on U.S. naval assets located about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Burma,” officials said.

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