Two US navy ships were due to arrive off Bangladesh to assist Dhaka's military-led relief effort to bring food and medicine to survivors of a killer cyclone, a statement said yesterday.
The USS Essex and USS Kearsarge were expected by Monday at the latest after one of the worst cyclones in Bangladesh's history devastated the southern coast.
"At the request of the US embassy in Bangladesh, US Pacific Command has sent a 23-man humanitarian assistance survey team of US marines to the southern coast of Bangladesh to determine how the US military can best provide assistance in the area," the US statement said.
The ships were each carrying at least 20 helicopters which could be used for medical evacuations and surveying the affected areas, it said.
USAID, the US agency for international development has already pledged US$2.1 million in aid.
Meanwhile, an intergovernmental group said on Wednesday that the dramatic lowering of the death toll in the latest cyclone demonstrates the value of linking the world's weather satellites and other steps that are being taken to curb such disasters.
"Bangladesh has a long history of major cyclones that have killed tens and even hundreds of thousands of people," said the 73-nation Group on Earth Observations, a new body that is working to link the weather satellites of different countries to benefit all parts of the world.
Jose Achache, director of the group's secretariat, said the "long-overdue" idea of sharing is already having an impact two years after it began to be implemented, building on advances in earth observation, disaster preparations and early warning systems.
But there is much more to be done, Achache said.
Hurricane expert Hassan Mashriqui of Louisiana State University said in the US that his warning by e-mail to Bangladesh authorities helped guide the evacuation that saved lives.