U.S. military officials say relief efforts for Sunday's earthquake and tsunami disaster are either being prepared or are already on the way to affected countries.
The U.S. military's response to the devastation from the tidal wave is being coordinated at Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii. Lt. Colonel Bill Bigelow, a spokesman for the Pacific Command, says three P-3 "Orion" patrol planes have been dispatched to Thailand to aid search and rescue missions in the region, and that other efforts are under way.
"We also have six C-130 (military transport) aircraft that are being loaded with some basic aid relief, such as temporary shelter, clothing and food that will depart to Thailand in the next 10-12 hours. We are also assembling three assessment teams whose mission will be to different locations throughout the region and identify needs that the U.S. military Pacific Command can fill," Lt. Colonel Bigelow says.
Lt. Colonel Bigelow says requests from specific nations will be passed to the U.S. military through the State Department. He says there are many relief-oriented tasks America's military is equipped to carry out, such as large-scale transport and water purification, and that everyone involved in the effort is aware of the dire needs that exist.
"This is a tragedy for folks throughout the region, and it is our duty to help in humanitarian assistance efforts and disaster relief, and we are prepared to do that," Lt. Colonel Bigelow says.
Lt. Colonel Bigelow adds that the Pacific Command will draw on U.S. military resources in Japan, Guam and elsewhere in the region.