A U.S. Marine amphibious group with three vessels and 10 helicopters was off the coast of Medan, ready to load supplies from the city and take them over to northern parts of Sumatra, hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami.
The helicopters are heavy- and medium-lift types and some can carry up to four times the load of the Seahawks currently involved in the U.S. relief operation in Banda Aceh, said Major Dwight Neeley with the 3rd Marine Division.
He said the helicopters would fly in to Medan, load up supplies and fly back to the ships, which would then sail to Meulaboh, a town flattened by the tsunami where estimates of the dead have ranged as high as 40,000.
The Australians have arrived with a water purifier:
In Banda Aceh city earlier, an Australian military water purification station doled out large plastic bags of water.
A machine the size of a large truck stood near 11 big black plastic tubes full of water. Indonesian soldiers with assault rifles stood on guard.
"This is probably the most important thing. If they can get clean water, it's going to have a major impact," Australian air force Corporal Peter Clarke said.
The U.S. Navy's Maritime Prepositioning Squadron should be arriving soon.
The squadron also has 43 Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units, each of which is capable of producing 600 gallons of potable water per hour from sea water. Five of the ships are also capable of making 25,000 gallons of fresh water a day using the ships' evaporators. The ships can pump water from ship to shore from up to two miles away using an Amphibious Bulk Liquid Transfer System of floating hoses.See my prior post on the MPSRON here.
As I noted earlier, the UN has its own deployable water purifier system
but I haven't seen any indication that any of the UN systems have been deployed yet.