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Sweden offers disaster assistance to US

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11:15 CEST+02:00

The Swedish Rescue Services Agency has offered disaster assistance to the US as it grapples with the task of rescuing thousands still trapped in New Orleans by flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.

On Friday morning the agency said it was still waiting for a reply and details about what sort of contribution Sweden could make in the disaster area. In the meantime, Swedish officials are identifying available resources and planning how to get them across the Atlantic.

The US sent out a request for international assistance on Thursday, and Sweden's response was delivered via the embassy in Washington.

It is understood that Sweden's offer included help with water purification, medical equipment, prefabricated temporary accommodation and repairing telecommunications.

"We know that they want these things but it doesn't seem to be completely clear what exactly is needed," said the Swedish Rescue Services Agency's press officer Mats Oscarsson.

"The affected states probably have the information but we haven't approached them yet."

The Swedish Rescue Services Agency is also in contact with similar European organisations as well as the American Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance.

"When other countries are hit by crisis there is usually some sort of very official request about what's needed and so on, but we haven't had that yet from the US," added Oscarsson.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed that three Swedes who were thought to have been in the area at the time of the hurricane have still not been contacted.

"We emphasise that we are not categorising them as missing - they just haven't got in touch," said Nina Ersman, at the ministry's press office.

According to the Foreign Ministry, hundreds of Swedes live in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama but the damaged telephone network has made it hard to contact everyone.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, TT, Aftonbladet

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