Thursday 16 September, 1999

Food drops delayed again

(Australian Broadcasting Corp.) Plans to air-drop emergency food supplies into East Timor have been delayed another day.

A Royal Australian Air Force Hercules is on standby in the Northern Territory to drop parcels with food rations and water to refugees forced out of Dili.

But the RAAF is still waiting for final clearance from Indonesia.

The United Nations says aid workers managed to get six tonnes of rice to refugees near the town of Dare yesterday and reported more deaths from disease and malnutrition.

The United Nations Mission in East Timor's spokesman, David Wimhurst, says there are about 50,000 refugees in that area alone in a serious state.

"The assessment of our humanitarian officers, in Dare specifically it might be more efficient to use road distribution to bring in more aid than by dropping it by air because of that particular terrain," he said.

(9:45pm AEST)