|In recent days more than 50 nations have pledged support for the massive hurricane rescue and relief operation along the U.S. Gulf Coast. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports several countries have begun mobilizing teams and loading aircraft with supplies destined for the devastated areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.|
One week after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, rescue workers continue to evacuate survivors from the devastated region, and offers of assistance continue to arrive from around the world. From traditional Washington ally Britain, the Royal Air Force began shipping hundreds of thousands of military rations for evacuees now spread across several southern U.S. states.
The supply flights will continue through the week. In Paris, officials have discussed aid for the historically French city of New Orleans, as French Red Cross workers prepare to embark for the United States.
Team leader Nathalie Tomczak said the team's experience in recent natural disasters should help them in Louisiana. "I have been in Sri Lanka and Iran for the same kind of catastrophes. And I can find in each situation the same kind of destruction and people who lost everything -- family and everything." Italy is sending thousands of medical kits, inflatable boats, water purifiers and pumps to New Orleans.
Tsunami-affected countries were also among those pledging help. Thailand's Foreign Minister, Kantathi Suphamongkon, has offered to send doctors and rice to the American south. He says, "We are very happy to help out, help our friends out and the U.S., of course, is a special friend of Thailand, so that in principle is already there."
As rescue workers continue to pull people from the damaged houses and buildings, other nations including Kuwait, Qatar and Bangladesh have pledged financial support. But not all offers have come from U.S. allies.
The leaders of Cuba and Venezuela, who have had tense relations with Washington, also offered assistance. U.S. officials have said they are grateful for all offers, but they are working to determine which offers should be accepted right away, and which would better meet longer term needs.