By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
May 19, 2008 - The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is expected to provide satellite images to China as soon as today to assist in damage assessments in earthquake-stricken Sichuan province, a senior defense official said today. The People's Republic of China specifically requested imagery of dams, reservoirs, roads and bridges, said Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Weather permitting and if cloud cover doesn't hamper the effort, the first images are expected to be delivered today, he said.
The imagery-support request follows two C-17 Globemaster aircraft deliveries of supplies to China yesterday. The loads, delivered to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, carried food, water containers, blankets, lanterns, generators and hand tools from U.S. military relief stocks in Hawaii and Guam.
While no additional flights are scheduled, the U.S. military remains ready to deliver more assistance, Whitman said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Pacific Command continued humanitarian flights today to cyclone-stricken Burma, Whitman reported. Five C-130 aircraft delivered more relief supplies today, following 10 flights during the weekend. To date, 31 airlifts have delivered more than 727,000 pounds of water, food, mosquito netting, shelters, medical supplies, hygiene supplies and other relief.
"We have no further scheduled flights, but we anticipate that the government is going to permit a similar number of flights, probably tomorrow, as they have in the past several days now," Whitman said.
Humanitarian aid organizations operating in Burma report that the relief supplies are reaching the affected areas. But without any U.S. military presence on the ground, Whitman said, it's impossible to verify all aid is getting where it's needed.
Burma's military junta has not authorized four U.S. ships on standby in the Bay of Bengal to join in the relief effort. USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Mustin and USS Juneau are equipped with 14 heavy-lift and medium-lift helicopters. "Right now, the only thing we have been granted permission for is the C-130 flights," Whitman said.
He expressed hope that Burma will tap into all the support ready to help. "There is still a good deal of suffering that is taking place in Burma. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue to provide some of that badly needed assistance," he said.
"So we are going to continue to monitor the situation, work through this problem and, as always, encourage the government to accept outside assistance so we can provide it to those that most need it right now."