Relief operations by Bangla-US marines to start soon:Gen Bailey

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Dhaka, Nov 24 (UNI) About 2,300 US marines and naval personnel are poised to start a ''massive operation'' in a day or two to reach relief materials to the victims of cyclone 'Sidr' in Bangladesh's coastal districts.

The US forces with the help of huge naval ships carrying 30 helicopters, aircraft and three hovercrafts will carry out the full-scale operations.

''We've already started delivering relief materials. We're looking for starting a full-scale operation in a day or two and that would be a priority of moving water and medical teams,'' Brig Gen Ronald Bailey of US Marines told reporters on board of USS Kearsarge.

USS Kearsarge, a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship, entered Bangladesh terrioty on Thursday now is anchored at 50 kms off Bangladesh's southeastern Chittagong port.

Bailey said they will meet their Bangladeshi counterparts tomorrow and 'move into what I call massive relief operations shortly thereafter.' Capt James Gregorski, the Commanding officer of the ship, said among other logistics the ship carries 30 helicopters and aircraft and three hovercraft capable of running both on sea and ashore.

This is going to be the second US relief operation since 1991 when a fierce cyclone coupled with tidal surge of 15-fit high hit the Chittagong region killing 1,40,00 people. The US Operation Sea Angel carried out the relief and rehabilitation after the cyclone.

Recalling Bangladesh's help after US was hit by hurricane Katrina, Gregorski said the US personnel would continue to support the efforts already begun by the Bangladeshi authority. About one of the capabilities of the ship, he said it could produce 200,000 gallons of water everyday.

Rear Admiral Carol Pottenger, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group-7, said, ''We have lot of capabilities. We are poised to be ready for help. We are here to support your military and the government.

UNI

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