US navy ship enters Bangla to aid cyclone victims

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Dhaka, Nov 23: A US Navy ship has arrived in Bangladesh ahead of schedule to aid the victims of cyclone 'Sidr' that devastated the country's coastal belt on November 15, leaving 3199 people dead and millions homeless.

Another US ship will arrive here tomorrow as part of their planned relief operations in the country's southwestern region that bore the brunt of the cyclone. ''The US ship already entered Bangladesh's territorial waters yesterday. It can start work any day,'' Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed told reporters after a meeting with US Pacific Command Admiral Timothy J Keating at the Army Headquarters.

Earlier, the US Admiral was briefed on deaths and destruction caused by 'Sidr' in 15 south and southwestern coastal districts. The US ship was anchored 30 km off the southeastern Chittagong port. The USS Essex and USS Kearsarge carry helicopters, hovercraft and are equipped with hospital facilities. The first ship was scheduled to arrive here on November 24 and the second on November 27.

General Moeen said a Joint Force Headquarters office was set up at southern Barisal town from where relief work will be coordinated. He said food, water, clothes and milk powder are now essential for the victims.

He said US has sent 10 water purifying plants and more are expected to come. Modus operandi of the US ships will be worked out in coordination with the Bangladesh army, officials here said.

This is going to be the second US Navy relief operation after 1991 when Joint Task Force Sea Angel arrived here after cyclone 'Marian' lashed the country's southeastern Chittagong region on April 29, 1991.

'Marian', coupled with 8-feet tidal surge devastated Bangladesh, killing nearly 1,40,000 people and leaving over 5 million people homeless. Operation Sea Angel began on May 10,1991 and involved over 7,000 US soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. It continued operation till June 13 that year.


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