U.S. sends naval, medical ships to quake-hit Nias

Friday, April 1, 2005
By nias

Friday, April 01, 2005 Ridwan M. Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

U.S. Embassy in Jakarta expressed its deep concern over the latest earthquake tragedy, and stated that the U.S. government was committed to supporting the recovery and relief efforts in Nias and Simeulue, two islands greatly affected by Monday's earthquake.

"The United States has good ties with Indonesia… We are still coordinating with the Indonesian government on what kind of relief we can deliver immediately to the affected areas.

"We have provided US$100,000 in preliminary emergency aid to help children and for other purposes in the two islands. We have been coordinating with two international non governmental organizations and sent a five-member medical team to help injured survivors," U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Lynn B. Pascoe said.

He added that the U.S. government would likely provide heavy equipment such as helicopters, communications, logistical support and resources if the Indonesian government needed them to conduct the relief and recovery operations.

Pascoe confirmed that USNS Mercy left East Timor on Wednesday bound for Nias if it was needed to provide medical aid to injured survivors in the area.

Over the last three months since the tragic tsunami, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. government agencies had been working closely with the Indonesian government to provide relief and other assistance to disaster victims in Aceh.

The Navy hospital ship conducted a wide range of medical and dental assistance programs ashore and afloat. To date, USAID has provided more than $52.1 million in emergency food assistance, relief supplies, shelter, water and sanitation, health and other support for affected communities in northern Sumatra.

The U.S. had deployed 16,000 military personnel, 26 ships, 58 helicopters and 43 fixed wing aircraft in that relief and recovery effort.

Meanwhile, the AFP reported from Washington that the U.S. had dispatched naval and medical ships in a bid to help stricken victims of the latest killer earthquake in Indonesia.

"Today, the U.S. naval ships and the medical ships, Niagara Falls and Mercy, are proceeding to the region, should their assistance be necessary," U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

The Australian and Singapore militaries are helping Indonesia with relief and recovery efforts while the United States and Japan had offered military assistance and awaiting the green light from Jakarta.

Just before the latest disaster, Indonesia had urged all foreign militaries that had been providing aid to victims of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province to leave.

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