Tsunami Survivors Rescued
U.S. choppers find remote survivors (AP-Washington Times)
U.S. helicopters yesterday rescued dozens of desperate and weak tsunami survivors Ã¢€” including a young girl clutching a stuffed Snoopy Ã¢€” as the American military relief operation reached out to remote areas of Indonesia with cartons of food and water. The United States, now spearheading the relief effort, is delivering more supplies than any other nation. A U.S. warship strike group carrying thousands more Marines is on the way to help.
Many of the 60 victims picked up in more than two dozen missions yesterday were too weak from eight days with little food or water to speak or move. The victims included children, the elderly and two pregnant women. Doctors said they suffered from pneumonia, broken bones, infected wounds and tetanus. Many appeared deeply traumatized. At least 25 were in critical condition. The American pilots ferried the survivors to a medical field station in Banda Aceh. The ones not rushed on stretchers were placed on a blue plastic sheet, among them a young girl holding a stuffed Snoopy. Some cried, and aid workers stroked their arms and backs to comfort them. They were given chocolate wafers, water, sweaters and T-shirts.
Two helicopters dropped off 1,800 pounds of soup and biscuits donated by schools in Singapore. At one point, the copters flew low over what appeared to be a fishing flotilla off the coast. There were no signs of life. The U.S. pilots said the damage was stunning. The five-vessel U.S. carrier group and much of the crew, which moved into position on Saturday, served in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq conflict. “In my 17 years of service, I have never seen such devastation, and I hope that I’ll never see such again in my life,” said Senior Chief Jesse Cash of Albuquerque, N.M., who has served in Somalia and Liberia.
When someone who participated in our operations in Somalia and Liberia finds a situation horrifying, it’s really saying something.
In a startling tale of survival, an Indonesian man swept off the shore by last week’s tsunami was found afloat on tree branches and debris, the second person to be found alive on the high seas days after the disaster, officials said Tuesday. Tsunami survivor Rizal Sapura, 23, was plucked out of the ocean by a Malaysian cargo ship from the Indian Ocean on Monday evening, about 100 miles from the shores of Aceh province, said Adrian Arukiasamy, a spokesman for shipping company K-Line Maritime Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. The crew of a container vessel that was returning to Malaysia from South Africa had spotted him clinging to the branches of a floating tree, Arukiasamy said. “It was certainly a miraculous survival,” he said.
Rizal, who subsisted mainly on rainwater, was weak and in shock, Arukiasamy said. He would be rushed for medical treatment when the ship arrived in Malaysia’s western harbor early Wednesday.