French warship Le Mistral taking aid to Myanmar

May 15th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, May 15 (IANS) The French amphibious landing ship Le Mistral, which was pulled out from war exercises with the Indian Navy off the Vishakhapatinam coast, made a call at the Chennai port to load relief material it will be taking to Myanmar for the victims of Cyclone Nargis. International relief agencies estimate that around 1.5 million people in Myanmar are at severe risk following the May 2-3 cyclone, while the official death toll reported by the government has crossed 32,000, with over 34,000 others missing.

Rear Admiral Alain Hinten told reporters here that the ship, which docked in Chennai Wednesday, will take two week’s supply of rations for 60,000 people to Myanmar on the orders of the French government.

As much as 400 tonnes of rice, 10,000 jerry cans of water of 30 litre each, 400,000 chlorine tablets to purify water, 20,000 marquees, 10,000 mosquito nets and 10,000 sets of cooking utensils were being picked up from Chennai.

Le Mistral sets sail for Yangon later Thursday, Commander Gilles Humeau said.

Le Mistral was part of the 10th Indo-French bilateral exercise that began May 8 off Vishakapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh. The exercises on the east coast will continue till May 16. However, Le Mistral was taken out of the exercise and placed on relief duty by the French government.

Le Mistral is a 32,300 tonne displacement assault warship, capable of deploying 16 NH 90 medium helicopters and also has reinforced forward pod to accomodate 30 tonne helicopters such as the CH-53E super stallion. The warship is capable of ferrying a whole armed battalion with 13 heavy tanks and 70 vehicles. It has four landing barges.

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