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RAF MILDENHALL, England — More than 25,000 rations donated by the British government to help with the U.S. hurricane relief effort left RAF Mildenhall on Tuesday morning on an American C-5A airplane headed to Little Rock, Ark., according to base officials.

In all, England is donating a half-million 24-hour ration packs — the British equivalent to a Meals, Ready to Eat — to help people displaced from their homes in Louisiana and Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina. According to some estimates, the U.K. contribution would be one ration for every person displaced by the storm.

British defense officials chartered 10 commercial jets to carry the rations to Arkansas and asked the United States for any help it could offer, said British Lt. Vicki Whales, an operations officer with the Defense Logistics Organization, an arm of the British Defence Ministry that organized the flights.

The crew at Mildenhall got word Monday night that a C-5A plane would arrive from Ramstein, Germany, the next morning, so airmen worked all night to coordinate the move, said Stewart Campbell, a controller with the 727th Air Mobility Squadron.

The 27,300 ration packs, weighing about 120,000 pounds, were loaded onto the plane in less than an hour, Campbell said. They should arrive in Arkansas by Wednesday morning after a brief stop to refuel, he said.

Whales said the Defence Ministry is coordinating with U.S. officials to get one more plane to fly from Mildenhall and carry the last of the rations by the end of the week.

Whales said no British military planes were available for the effort.

“They’re all tied up with operations [in Iraq and Afghanistan],” she said.

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