TEL AVIV (Dec. 15)
Israel has enlarged its earthquake relief efforts for Soviet Armenia, but it seems to have a problem getting it off the ground.
Three air force Hercules cargo planes loaded with personnel and equipment were scheduled to leave at dawn Thursday, but their takeoff was postponed because of bad weather.
So far, only one Israeli relief airlift has reached Yerevan, the Armenian capital. It arrived there Sunday.
A follow-up flight by two Hercules transports on Monday was recalled halfway to its destination.
Brig. Gen. Aharon Vardi, Israel’s civil defense chief who reached Armenia with the first flight, advised the planes by radio that their medical and rescue personnel were not needed in Yerevan or in the stricken Leninakan region.
They were ordered to return to Israel to await further instructions.
It was decided later that supplies were more urgently needed than personnel.
One of the transports was withdrawn Wednesday and the other was equipped to carry cargo only.
But the picture changed on Thursday when the relief fleet was enlarged to three Hercules aircraft, and another 50 medical and rescue personnel were assigned to the mission along with administrative staff.