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Government to airlift blankets for Pakistani refugees



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EMBARGOED TO 12 NOON 24 NOVEMBER

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

NEWS RELEASE NO. 24 November

GOVERNMENT TO AIRLIFT BLANKETS FOR PAKISTANI REFUGEES

In what he described as "an outstanding example of

co-operation between the Government and voluntary agencies" the Minister

for Foreign Affairs, Mr Nigel Bowen, Q.C., M.P., announced today that

the Commonwealth Government had arranged to airlift blankets collected

in the Austcare appeal for blankets for East Pakistani refugees»

"In view of the urgent need to get blankets to the area as

quickly as possible, the Department of Foreign Affairs has chartered

three Qantas Boeing 70?1s to take the blankets from Australia to

Calcutta", Mr Bowen said»

"The three Boeing 70?1s will airlift a total of 32,000 woollen

blankets between 24 and 30'November» The first load leaves at mid day

today» An additional 8,000 blankets donated by the Australian Government

will be carried by an R.A.A.F. Hercules aircraft direct to Gauhati in the

Assam foothills", the Minister said. .

Mr Bowen said the balance of 10,000 blankets donated by the

Government would be transported by other means as quickly as possible.

8,000 blankets was a capacity load for a Hercules aircraft.

Mr Bowen said that climatic and other reasons made it essential

to get the blankets to their destination in the shortest possible time,

if the aid was to be effective. "This influenced the Government in

arranging the charters", he said.

The charters, in two passenger and one freighter 707 had taken

up all available Qantas charter aircraft up to 30 November.