News for the Week of November 23, 1998
November 23, 1998
Aid Worker Presumed Dead in Helicopter Accident
It is with great sadness that we report the disappearance of a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) helicopter in Honduras last Monday, November 16. The helicopter was carrying a Doctors Without Borders volunteer physician from Australia, Jane Connor, 29, a Panamanian pilot, and a Honduran patient. Dr. Conner was evacuating the critically ill patient from Cosuna to a hospital in Trojillo on the Caribbean coast. The helicopter never arrived at its destination. The body of the pilot, Javier Alvardi, was recovered on Friday, November 20. Search parties operating in cooperation with the U.S. and French militaries have yet to recover the helicopter or the bodies of Dr. Connor or her patient. This was Dr. Connor's second mission with Doctors Without Borders. She previously served as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Our thoughts are with her family in Australia and her friends around the world.
Hurricane Mitch Relief
Honduras: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to deliver medical and relief supplies to remote regions of Honduras hard hit by Hurricane Mitch. Seven medical teams are traveling throughout the country to provide emergency medical aid, supplies to local health posts, and emergency nutritional supplements to children at risk of malnutrition. In the Choluteca region of southern Honduras, Doctors Without Borders is actively working to remove chemical tanks damaged by Hurricane Mitch that are leaking toxic pesticides into the drinking supply of 360,000 people living along the Choluteca River. Doctors Without Borders teams have treated more than 30 cases of poisoning in the past week. We are collaborating with local health authorities to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking the chemical-tainted water.
Nicaragua: Doctors Without Borders is using helicopters and four-wheel drive vehicles to deliver emergency medical and nutritional aid to populations in need in remote regions of Nicaragua. Last week, 15 Doctors Without Borders mobile teams brought relief to people in Esteli, Nueva Segovia, Chinandega, Jinotega, and Managua. Several teams are based in the regions of the volcanoes of Cierro Negro, Las Casitas, and San Cristobal, where mudslides have occurred and additional slides are possible. Teams are distributing medical kits, high-energy protein supplements, and relief materials, including blankets, plastic sheeting, and water cans to displaced people. In addition, Doctors Without Borders is installing water tanks and water chlorination systems, and providing gasoline for the incineration of human and animal corpses still being found. Fifty-seven tons of relief supplies have already arrived in Managua, and additional supplies are being purchased locally.
Guatemala: Doctors Without Borders' efforts in Guatemala are focusing on control of previously existing and new cholera outbreaks. In the southern region of Escuintla, teams have set up a cholera treatment center. In the western region of Izabal, teams are aiding about 10,000 people in villages that have been isolated since Hurricane Mitch caused extensive damage to roadways and bridges.
El Salvador: Doctors Without Borders is providing aid to victims of Hurricane Mitch in communities along the Honduran border with El Salvador. Some 300 people are now reported dead in El Salvador, and 2,500 are still missing. Doctors Without Borders is supplying emergency shelter for homeless people in the region, distributing medicines to five hard-hit health clinics, and improving the water and sanitation facilities in ten villages. In addition, Doctors Without Borders is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health of El Salvador and other national and international aid organizations to combat any outbreaks of infectious diseases.