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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Highfill, Arkansas)
For Immediate Release                                   November 6, 1998
                              FACT SHEET

At the direction of the President, the Administration is further ramping up our response to the disaster in Central America caused by Hurricane Mitch.

Today, the U.S. military will deploy a Chinook heavy lift helicopter and three Blackhawk helicopters to Nicaragua, to supplement the rescue and delivery efforts of the four Blackhawks already on scene. Within the next 24 hours, we will be deploying an additional ten heavy lift helicopters and six medium lift helicopters to the region. Moreover, a 130 person SEABEE unit, the Naval SEABEE Air Detachment from the Second Naval Construction Brigade, will deploy to Central America from Roosevelt Rhodes, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, to provide engineering assessment, repair and construction.

These efforts come on top of current U.S. activity, which includes the deployment of over 600 military personnel, 20 rotary wing aircraft and four fixed aircraft for use in assessment, search and rescue, evacuation, and transport and delivery of relief supplies.

These new initiatives reflect initial implementation of some $70 million in augmented U.S. disaster assistance for Central America, reflecting the President's commitment to do everything possible to alleviate the widespread suffering caused by the hurricane.

The components of the new $70 million package include the following:

Military Support: The President is directing the drawdown of up to $30 million in defense articles and services for relief in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The assistance will be available for additional helicopters, emergency supplies, search and rescue personnel, and engineering support to help restore critical infrastructure.

Food Aid: The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Agriculture will provide about $24 million in additional food, including wheat, rice, beans, oil, and corn soya blend.

Other assistance: USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance will provide an additional $16.3 million for water, sanitation and other critical relief needs.