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Europe readies Katrina aid to send to US
Updated: 2005-09-06 10:21

European nations on Monday prepared aid teams, food rations, water pumps and even cruise ships to help U.S. regions hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Countries large and small have offered aid — from tiny Luxembourg's beds and blankets to half a million food rations from Germany and Britain.

Greece put on standby two cruise ships to house refugees and Sweden has offered aircraft to help distribute aid shipments, said Barbara Helfferich, a European Union spokeswoman.

Helfferich said an EU aid coordinator would go to the United States soon to help ensure aid goes to victims of Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. U.S. authorities made a rare request for help from Europe over the weekend, asking for anything from diapers and baby formula to forklifts and veterinarian supplies.

Abandoned vehicles many with broken windows sit in flood waters in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 5, 2005. [Reuters]
Aid flights from overseas will be directed and to Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, unloaded there, and have the material sent to the affected regions to the south, said Air Force Lt. Jon Quinlan.

"We've contracted semi-truck drivers to drive the cargo to the Gulf Coast starting tomorrow," Quinlan said.

The first plane including food rations arrived Monday from Britain and was unloaded in preparation for the seven-hour drive to New Orleans.

"The United States has been enormously grateful for the outpouring of support both emotional and concrete from allies over the past week," said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

NATO officials said the alliance was coordinating offers of food, shelter and other aid from several allies, including Germany, Canada and Norway which was offering navy divers as well as 10,000 blankets. Latvia and France were preparing to send disaster relief teams.

Non-NATO members were also working with the alliance disaster coordination center, including Switzerland and Russia, which has offered generators, tents and 10,000 meals.

Germany and Britain had already sent 570,000 emergency food rations over the weekend, while Luxembourg was preparing to send a team of five aid experts, two jeeps, and bedding. The Netherlands had deployed a naval frigate, which was transporting drinking water, medical supplies and much needed helicopters.

Many European countries have pledged to release parts of their strategic oil and gas reserves to stabilize global oil supplies.

Bangladesh, an impoverished delta nation that is regularly buffeted by cyclones and floods, pledged $1 million and offered the services of rescuers and disaster experts.

A Mexican ship loaded with supplies set sail on Monday from the Gulf Coast port of Tampico, and the country has set up consular offices in trailers around the disaster zone to help some of the estimated 140,000 Mexicans who live in the region, 10,000 of them in New Orleans.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week no aid offer would be refused.

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