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US Expands Support for Honduras and Guatemala Following Eta Devastation

US Expands Support for Honduras and Guatemala Following Eta Devastation

By Kay Valle/Diálogo
November 12, 2020

U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) continues to support rescue and humanitarian relief efforts of the governments of Honduras and Guatemala in the Wake of Hurricane Eta devastation.

Among its latest missions in Honduras, on November 10, JTF-Bravo troops joined the Honduran Armed Forces, the Red Cross Honduras, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Humanitarian Assistance in transporting more than 1,800 kilograms of humanitarian supplies aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the department of Gracias a Dios. Two days prior, JTF-Bravo units delivered more than 1,200 kg of supplies to communities in five áreas of Choloma, Cortés department, which were isolated for 96 hours following the hurricane.

Members of JTF-Bravo partner with the Honduran Armed Forces, the Red Cross Honduras, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Humanitarian Assistance to load more than 1,800 kg of humanitarian supplies aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook in the Toncontín International Airport, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on November 10, 2020, to take them to Puerto Lempira, Gracias a Dios. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Captain Rachel Salpietra)

In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras donated a cold storage room to the Regional Office of Forensic Medicine in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, to support the work of doctors and other specialists who identify the bodies of victims.

The Permanent Contigency Commission of Honduras (COPECO) also announced that it would begin coordinating efforts with JTF-Bravo to continue saving lives in the Sula Valley, a region in the north of the country that was submerged in waters. In addition, COPECO units will join members of the U.S. force to assess the damages and provide humanitarian assistance in Gracias a Dios.

According to November 10 data from COPECO, more than 16,000 people have been rescued throughout the country and more than 20 died to the effects of the hurricane.

“When our family is in need, we have the obligation to help,” said U.S. Army Colonel John D. Litchfield, commander of JTF-Bravo, noting the long partnership between Honduras and JTF-Bravo, which headquarters are in Comaguaya. “We look forward to continuing the rescue and humanitarian aid efforts,” he added during his visit to the Regional Emergency Operation Center in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, from where rescue efforts for this area will be coordinated.

Support to Guatemala

In Guatemala, the work of the JTF-Bravo team has been concentrated in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Quiché, and Zacapa, providing strategic transportation, transfer of rescue teams, transportation of emergency supplies, and support in rescue missions. For example, on November 10, JTF-Bravo joined the Guatemalan Army to transport 4535 kg of supplies in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the town of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

“The invaluable support provided by JTF-Bravo’s aircraft in Guatemala […] has made it possible to transport 86,424 pounds [39,201 kg] of food to Alta Verapaz in three days, from where it will be distributed through civil and military aircraft […] to the affected communities that are cut off by the flooding of rivers and damage to the country’s road infrastructure,” Army Colonel Rubén Antonio Tellez, Press director of the Guatemalan Defense Ministry told Diálogo. “On the other hand, they have also provided evacuation for 30 people in Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango.”

Col. Tellez explained that the rescue work in Alta Verapaz is particularly difficult. “It is an area prone to landslides and rescue work is difficult for rescues and canine teams because they sink up to their waists in the terrain.”

According to November 11 CONRED data, the hurricane affected more than 639,000 people in Guatemala and 46 died.

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