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U.S. Government to Provide Q900,000 in Immediate Assistance to Guatemala

Guatemala, May 31, 2010

Helicopters To Support Search and Rescue Operations

The U.S. Government will provide Q900,000 in immediate humanitarian aid in response to President Colom’s call for international assistance following the eruption of the Pacaya volcano and tropical storm Agatha.

A total of Q800,000 in disaster relief funds have been authorized by the USAID Office of Foreign Development Assistance. These funds will be used for basic food supplies, fuel for emergency vehicles, and to rent civilian helicopters to survey damage caused by the storm.

An additional Q100,000 from the U.S. Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program will be used to purchase sanitation equipment and other relief supplies for use by emergency responders.

In response to a request from the Guatemalan government, U.S. Southern Command will temporarily assign helicopters from Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras to assist in search and rescue operations and to carry cargo and emergency personnel to areas that are unreachable by road. Three helicopters supported by the U.S. Embassy Anti-Narcotics Section are already conducting aerial surveys and search and rescue operations in areas subject to flooding.

On Saturday, May 29, U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland helped to deliver Guatemalan government food supplies to the community of Pachalum, Quiche, and also visited the Sololá area to assess the damage. According to Ambassador McFarland, “The U.S. Government is very concerned about those who are suffering from the aftermath of tropical storm Agatha and we stand ready to help the people of Guatemala recover from this disaster. The emergency funds provided by the U.S. Government are available for immediate use and will help to save lives in the next crucial days and weeks. The U.S. Embassy is working closely with CONRED and other authorities and we will continue to coordinate with the government of Guatemala to identify areas where we can provide assistance.”