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Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Monday prepare to strap down a shipping container filled with supplies headed for the earthquake relief mission in Indonesia. About 100 Marines and sailors will deploy to help earthquake victims.

Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Monday prepare to strap down a shipping container filled with supplies headed for the earthquake relief mission in Indonesia. About 100 Marines and sailors will deploy to help earthquake victims. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Monday prepare to strap down a shipping container filled with supplies headed for the earthquake relief mission in Indonesia. About 100 Marines and sailors will deploy to help earthquake victims.

Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Monday prepare to strap down a shipping container filled with supplies headed for the earthquake relief mission in Indonesia. About 100 Marines and sailors will deploy to help earthquake victims. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

Marines chain down a shipping container as a heavy duty forklift places another on a pallet at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Monday afternoon.

Marines chain down a shipping container as a heavy duty forklift places another on a pallet at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Monday afternoon. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

U.S. military medical aid began arriving Monday in Indonesia to help victims of an earthquake that has claimed thousands of lives, officials said.

Medical personnel, equipment and supplies from U.S. Pacific Command bases are being sent to assist in an international humanitarian relief effort after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Saturday near the ancient city of Yogyakarta on the island of Java.

The government’s Social Affairs Ministry on Monday raised the official death toll to 5,137, saying it included previously uncounted bodies buried in mass graves immediately after the quake. An estimated 200,000 people have been left homeless, according to The Associated Press.

Hospitals overflowed with bloodied survivors, the news service reported.

“The goal is to reduce further loss of life and help alleviate human suffering,” Brig. Gen. Dana Atkins, Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command’s director of operations, said in a news release Monday.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the people of Indonesia affected by this tragedy, and will do our best to ease their suffering with available medical assets.”

The deployment is part of a larger U.S. government response to a request for help from the Indonesian government.

Military officials said they had been anticipating a call since the earthquake struck Saturday.

Pacific Command spokesman Lt. Col. Bill Bigelow said the initial aid flight, with III Marine Expeditionary Force medical personnel from Okinawa aboard to determine where best to set up operations, was sent Monday.

About 100 military personnel will deploy to Indonesia.

They will bring surgical, shock trauma, laboratory, dental, X-ray and preventive medicine expertise to the devastated area, Bigelow said.

Along with the Okinawa contingency, Air Force personnel from Guam and some personnel aboard the USNS Mercy, a Navy hospital ship currently operating in the Philippines, will take part in the effort.

The Marines and sailors from various elements of III MEF will provide capabilities similar to what was provided in their recent medical relief mission in Pakistan, according to Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Eric Tausch.

“Anything we can do to even help just one person is worth it,” he said in a telephone interview.

Tausch said Col. Tom Goben, the commanding officer of 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, is part of the advance team working with the Indonesian government on where to best use U.S. support.

“We want to make sure we’re in the right place with the right stuff, doing the right thing,” Tausch said.

Tausch said he didn’t know how long the U.S. military would be needed in the effort.

“As long as the Indonesian government wants us there,” he said. “We’re just happy to be able to help. Our forward presence here helps us respond to these types of things.”

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