EU to send US emergency aid after storm kills thousands

The United States have formally called on the EU, NATO and other international donors to send emergency aid, six days after hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, leaving thousands dead.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent a formal request for aid to the EU on 4 September after several days of informal contacts between the US authorities, the Commission delegation in Washington and the UK Presidency, the Commission has announced in a statement.

First aid kits, blankets, water trucks and 500,000 prepared meals are to be channelled from EU countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism located at the European Commission, which will co-ordinate the European response. 

“The European Community Mechanism for Civil Protection is ready to co-ordinate emergency assistance by different Member States to the area of New Orleans,” said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

A preliminary list of materials, team and equipment offered by the member states is currently being drawn up, the Commission indicated. Specialist teams from several Member States are on stand-by and ready for immediate deployment.

The US requests come as criticism mounts over the time it took for the US authorities to file its aid request, days after hurricane Katrina devastated the state of New Orleans. US Federal authorities have admitted that the number of casualties will run to thousands.

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