Landing problems delay Somali airlift

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The Independent Online
Nairobi (Reuter) - France started an emergency airlift of food to starving Somalia yesterday but the United States postponed its first flight because a bush airstrip turned out to be too narrow to take C-141 transport planes.

US troops were rushing to the airstrip in northern Kenya to cut down some trees, a spokesman said. French embassy officials in Djibouti said a chartered Hercules C-130 aircraft carrying 20 tons of emergency food left for Baidoba in south-west Somalia, one of the areas worst hit by drought compounded by civil strife.

A French medical charity named Baidoba, 140 miles north-west of Mogadishu, as one of the towns in an area where corpses litter the ground and starving villagers are chewing their clothes and their goatskin bags.

'We have just taken a new step into horror,' said a statement by Medecins sans Frontieres. 'Most villages are deserted, destroyed or burnt down. Only larger villages are inhabited and they are now home for thousands of displaced families, farmers who have lost everything,' the statement added.