MYANMAR: Helicopter aid service grounded

Published on 20 August 2009

For aid workers, accessing Myanmar's cyclone-stricken Ayeyarwady Delta had meant a hop into the World Food Programme (WFP) helicopter and being airborne for about an hour. Not any more. The service stopped on 15 August after Myanmar's government failed to extend it. "It is back to six-hour-long road trips or boat rides," grumbled an aid worker. Chris Kaye, WFP country director, confirmed that the service had been discontinued. The agency had started off with a fleet of 10 helicopters after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008. The service delivered 1,119MT of life-saving supplies, including food and shelter materials, and transported thousands of aid workers and people needing urgent assistance.

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