Trump accepts PM Lee's offer of helicopters in relief efforts for storm-torn Texas

Trump accepts PM Lee's offer of helicopters in relief efforts for storm-torn Texas

Singapore is sending up to four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) CH-47 Chinook helicopters to lend a helping hand in relief operations following the deadly Tropical Storm Harvey which lashed Texas and Louisiana with record rainfall.

United States President Trump has accepted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's offer of help when he spoke to Mr Trump over the phone when the president was making his way to survey devastated Texas.

"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called United States President Donald Trump on August 29, 2017 to express his concern and sympathies over the loss of life and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana," a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement last night.

Expected to swing into operation today (Aug 30), the Chinook helicopters are from Singapore's Peace Prairie detachment, which is stationed in Grand Prairie, Texas. They will airlift troops and evacuees, as well as transport supplies to where they are needed most.


A rescue helicopter hovers in the background as an elderly woman and her poodle use an air mattress to float above flood waters while waiting to be rescued from Scarsdale Boulevard in Houston.
Photo: Reuters

A statement from the Ministry of Defence today said: "Prime Minister Lee said this was a small gesture to express our appreciation and gratitude to the US and in particular the State of Texas, which have been good hosts for our Peace Prairie detachment. President Trump thanked PM Lee and accepted his offer of help."


Harvey has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas, killing at least 12 people and crippling Houston, America's fourth most populous city where tens of thousands had to flee their homes. Damage was expected to run well into the tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters, reported Reuters.

Described as "epic" by President Trump, the storm has been compared with Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans 12 years ago, killing 1,800 people and causing an estimated US$108 billion (S$146 billion) in damage.

Singapore's Peace Prairie Detachment also provided similar assistance after Katrina in 2005.

Jesus Rodriguez rescues Gloria Garcia in Pearland, in the outskirts of Houston.Photo: Reuters


On a separate note, the MFA spokesman said PM Lee and Mr Trump are looking forward to their meeting at the White House in October.


In their phone conversation, both leaders also discussed North Korea's continued and deliberate provocations, including the latest ballistic missile launch, which flew over Japan yesterday (Aug 29).

"PM Lee said Singapore was deeply concerned and had issued a statement condemning this reckless action," added the spokesman.


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