Army helicopters airlifted refugees out of the besieged Mekong River ferry town of Neak Luong on Monday (13 January) after bringing in re-enforcements for government troops desperately holding out against Communist-led insurgents.
GV PAN Helicopter comes into land in field
SV Refugees helped out of helicopter by armed patrol
SV PAN Troops carry equipment across field
LV Barge on Mekong River packed with refugees
SCU Refugees off barge wading ashore and child helped off barge (2 shots)
SV Wounded man carried through muddy water off barge
GV Conference hall in Phnom Penh
SV Honour guard to attention as C. i C. Fernandez arrives at hall (2 shots)
SV INT Monks seated
CU Lon Nol speaking
CU&SV Elderly monk watches as Lon Nol prepares to leave (2 shots)
Initials ET/1617 ET/1649
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Background: Army helicopters airlifted refugees out of the besieged Mekong River ferry town of Neak Luong on Monday (13 January) after bringing in re-enforcements for government troops desperately holding out against Communist-led insurgents.
Neak Luong, 28 miles (45 kilometres) southeast of Phnom Penh -- the capital city, which is itself beleaguered -- is the only position still held by government forces along the 19-mile (30-kilometres) stretch of the Mekong River between the two centres. The rescue operation was launched because Neak Luong has become overcrowded to four times its normal population as refugees from the surrounding area have fled the insurgents' advance.
Hundreds of other refugees -- most of them women and children -- arrived safely in Phnom Penh on Monday by river barge and landing craft after running the gauntlet of many insurgent positions along the river. However, 26 refugees were killed and 44 wounded when their landing craft was hit by insurgent shelling near Neak Luong, and a second evacuation convoy was forced to turn back in the face of heavy fire.
Meanwhile, in Phnom Penh, President Lon Nol called indirectly on Monday (13 january) for more military and economic aid from the United States. The President was addressing the opening of the 31st annual Buddhist Conference.
But, even as he spoke, reports indicated that stepped-up U.S. military supplies are already pouring into Phnom Penh. Newsmen at the capital's Pochentong Airport reported about 50 landings by U.S. Air Force C-130 transport aircraft ferrying in equipment from Thailand.