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UPDATED: 11:18, September 16, 2005
NATO begins to airlift aid to hurricane-shattered US state
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French Defense Ministry announced Thursday that aircraft belonging to the NATO Response Force (NRF), under France's command since July, began flying tonnes of aid for people of the US state of Louisiana, hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Two C-160 cargo planes from the transatlantic rapid reaction unit flew three rotations between the Norwegian capital Oslo and the major US base of Ramstein in Germany to position 74 tonnes of aid for transport to the southern US state, said the French military chief of staff at a weekly news conference.

According to him, the NRF mission is to transport contributions for the tens of thousands of people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

The flights "showed the continuity of the spirit of solidarity which has taken hold in Europe" to help the United States, one of NATO's leading members, French officials said in a statement.

The NRF 5 air contingent, consisting of 16 aircraft, including six of which are French transport planes, is under the French command since July 1st for six months.

France has sent two flights to the United States on September 6 carrying an emergency evaluation team, tents, tarpaulins and food rations, and on September 11 a French Navy C135 plane flew to Louisiana with 16 military divers and a medic and 7 tonnes of equipment.

Source: Xinhua

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