Indonesia Earthquake: US deploys team but keeps hospital ship on Philippine Mission for now
USNS MERCY to remain on Philippines humanitarian mission
U.S. Military Personnel Deploying to Indonesia with Medical Aid
Contingent part of larger, coordinated U.S. response, Pacific Command says
The U.S. military is sending medical personnel, equipment and supplies to Indonesia to assist the victims of the May 27 earthquake, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), headquartered in Hawaii, announced May 28.
"The deployment is part of a larger U.S. government response to a request from the government of Indonesia for humanitarian assistance" being coordinated through the departments of State and Defense, according to PACOM.
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 5:54 a.m. local time near the city of Yogyakarta, which is 400 kilometers east of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. The densely populated city is a popular tourist attraction.
In the wake of the disaster, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged U.S. assistance with response and recovery efforts. (See related article.)
On May 29, the official death toll reached 5,136, and UNICEF estimated the quake had left 20,000 injured and more than 130,000 homeless. The earthquake also badly damaged power facilities and deprived tens of thousands of electricity – making delivery of aid to a disaster area spread over hundreds of square kilometers difficult. However, the U.N. World Food Programme announced May 28 that three trucks carrying enough high-energy biscuits to feed 20,000 people for a week had arrived in the districts of Bantul and Klaten.
Approximately 100 U.S. military personnel, drawn from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Pacific Air Force units in Guam and the USNS Mercy are bringing surgical, shock/trauma, laboratory, dental and X-ray equipment as well as preventive medicine expertise to the earthquake-ravaged area of Indonesia, according to PACOM.
The Mercy, a U.S. Navy hospital ship, currently is operating in the Philippines as part of a five-month medical deployment to Southeast Asia and Western Pacific countries. PACOM said the deployment of some Mercy personnel to Indonesia "will not impact her ability to continue the mission in the Philippines." (See related article.)