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Sharon offers help

by: Diana Bahur-Nir, Ynetnews - Last updated: 2005-09-04

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

A Health and Security Ministries delegation from Israel will be departing to the US this week in order to coordinate Israeli aid to the Americans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the opening of Sunday’s government session.

"The United States stood by us in difficult times, and it’s our duty to help out in the areas we can do so," he said, and added he has instructed the Defense and Health ministers to look into what kind of assistance can be offered quickly.

"The US is facing one of the most serious disasters to ever hit it," Sharon said. “We want to express our condolences and our solidarity with the mourning, and we’ll do all in our power to assist.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Danny Naveh, who spoke before the government session got under way, said: "America is a large superpower able to handle disasters. There are countries, like our own small country, that can assist the US if necessary."

New Orleans looked all but empty on Sunday after the final evacuation of battered survivors of Hurricane Katrina, while top Bush administration officials, stung by anger at their relief efforts, were fanning out across the afflicted region.

Hundreds of buses and helicopters carried evacuees to the airport where military cargo planes delivered them from the misery left in the city by Katrina, which struck the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, possibly killing thousands and leaving many more homeless. Many evacuees were taken to Texas.

The streets were mostly calm - and deserted - in the once-vibrant capital of jazz and good times. National Guard troops and U.S. marshals patrolled the flooded city, stricken in recent nights by almost anarchic violence and looting.

It was difficult to determine how many civilians remained in New Orleans, which had a population before Katrina of more than 500,000. Many had locked themselves in their houses. Others were still trapped in homes stranded by floodwaters.

US troops, who took days to appear in force as many thousands waited desperately for help, began moving emergency supplies.

President George W. Bush, who admitted on Friday the results of his administration's relief efforts were unacceptable, said he would send 7,200 more active-duty troops over three days.

A further 10,000 National Guard troops were being to storm-afflicted Louisiana and Mississippi, raising the total to 40,000. A total of 54,000 military personnel are now committed to relief efforts.

"Many of our citizens are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans, and that is unacceptable," said Bush.

Bush, who rarely concedes errors, spoke a day after touring the destruction amid blistering criticism of the federal response. He will tour the area again on Monday and postponed a Wednesday meeting at the White House with China's president.

He has signed a $10.5 billion relief package for Gulf Coast areas hit by Katrina, and lawmakers said they planned to allocate more money in the coming weeks.

Reproduced with permission: Ynetnews