Five American cargo planes filled with doctors, search-and-rescue workers and supplies left Saturday for earthquake-ravaged Armenia to help the victims of the tragedy that killed thousands of people.
John Metelsky, a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which was coordinating the government's relief effort, said a chartered 727-100 plane left Dulles Airport at 3:30 a.m. EST.A second planeload of rescue teams left Andrews Air Force Base at 2:41 p.m., he said, and an American military cargo plane left Pisa, Italy, Saturday for Armenia with 28 tons of cots and tents, Metelsky said. At least two private planeloads of supplies also left Saturday.
Industrialist Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Petroleum Corp., took off from Los Angeles for the disaster site with a $1 million check and a plane loaded with medical supplies, an Occidental spokesman in Los Angeles said.
The AmeriCares Foundation, of New Canaan, Conn., sent a Boeing 707 from New York filled with 90,000 pounds of medical supplies, including medicine, syringes, sheets and water purification tablets.
The plane from Dulles carried a medical trauma team of six doctors, eight search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers, five support personnel, three other AID officials and three Armenians from U.S.-Armenian interest groups, Metelsky said.
The team was led by AID official Caroline Herbert, who is speaks Russian and Armenian. Among the physicians aboard was Dr. Robert Gale of UCLA, who assisted the Soviets after the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.
The plane from Andrews AFB carried 18 professional rescue personnel - eight from Florida's Metro-Dade County Fire Department - who helped extricate victims during the 1985 Mexican quake - and 10 from the the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Service in Virginia, Metelsky said.
AID spokesman Timothy O'Leary said U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, has donated $25,000 from his disaster relief fund to help quake victims. "Every ambassador has the power to release up to $25,000 at his own discretion," he said.
Medical teams, rescue experts and supplies were rushed in from France, Britain, Italy and other nations as well.