German food packages arrived in the US Saturday to help victims of hurricane Katrina as a fact-finding team from the country's federal disaster relief organization prepared to head to the affected region.
German government officials said Saturday that a military plane had delivered 10 tons of one-person food packages to Pensacola, Florida. The US Federal Emergency Managament Agency (FEMA) will deliver the aid to Katrina victims.
Officials had used free cargo capacities on the routine flight to the US, which brings supplies to German soldiers -- mainly pilots -- who are in the US for training purposes.
Meanwhile, a team from Germany's Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), the country's federal disaster relief organization, was on standby Saturday to travel to the affected region. The group of four THW workers plus a medical doctor is meant to figure out what kind of German aid is wanted and needed. The trip will ensure that relief work can be coordinated such that it will reach those in need in the most timely manner, government spokesman Bela Anda told reporters.
Schröder's chief-of-staff, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is expected to meet with the new US ambassador in Germany, William Timken, on Sunday to discuss what kind of aid the US would want from Germany. Meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Friday, Timken had reportedly thanked him for the offer of help and said that the US would take Germans up on it at a later point.
States, Red Cross offer help
German states meanwhile also offered to participate in the aid effort. Bavaria, which expressed its willingness to coordinate the help, and Baden-Württemberg said they would offer personnel and equipment if the federal government took over transportation costs. Kurt Beck, the premier of the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate, offered financial help to the US military forces stationed in his state.
But DRK spokesman Fredrik Barkenhammar told Berlin paper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag that American Red Cross officials had asked for donations and personnel expertise rather than material support.
Donations pour in
The German government has also thanked citizens for their willingness to donate money to the victims, adding that aid organizations and the foreign ministry's humanitarian aid department were coordinating the effort to ensure that help would reach those in need as soon as possible.
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