[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE296525_d.html. This URL may be available through the Wayback Machine.]
INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 NEA-11 ISO-00 SSO-00 FBIE-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 PA-01 TRSE-00 SCS-06 MCT-02 CA-01 INR-10 INRE-00 SY-05 SYE-00 USSS-00 H-01 AID-05 SS-15 L-03 NSCE-00 CCO-00 OC-06 JUSE-00 NSAE-00 ICAE-00 SVC-00 CG-00 DOTE-00 /094 R
DRAFTED BY ARA:SRGIBSON:SDS
APPROVED BY ARA:RBRUCE
——————033751 230906Z /23
O 230836Z NOV 78 ZFF4
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY PANAMA NIACT IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY KUWAIT NIACT IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO IMMEDIATE
CINCSOUTHCOM QUARRY HTS CA ZONE IMMEDIATE
CINCMAC SCOTT AFB ILL IMMEDIATE
US REDCOM/RCJ2 MACDILL AFS FLA IMMEDIATE
USCINCARRED FT MCPHERSON GA IMMEDIATE
CDR 18TH AIRBORNE CORPS FT BRAGG NC IMMEDIATE
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE ATTEN: J-2 IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 296525
LONDON FOR MICHAEL FINLEY
E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO), GY
SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT NO. 15
Embassy Georgetown anticipates that the GOG [Government of Guyana] will lift its objections tomorrow to travel of approximately 74 of the known survivors. Larry Layton has been arraigned and three others are being held by the police. We do not know how many of the 74 survivors will choose to leave the country at this time. The USAF should be able to provide transportation within the next few days.
Recovery operations in the Jonestown area encountered aggravating problems, including heavy rainfalls, during daylight hours today. Nevertheless, 40 bodies (not 80 as earlier reported) have been moved to Georgetown where they will be loaded on a c-141 scheduled to arrive at dover afb on November 23 at 0700 (EST). The GOG has continued to cooperate fully with U.S. military operations and, at one point loaned the two remaining Guyanese airways helicopters for transportation to the Jonestown area. The ambassador spok- [spoke] twice with Prime Minister [Forbes] Burnham and twice with Minister Green [Hamilton Green, Guyana Minister of Health and Labor] today concerning details of the recovery operation.
Embassy estimates that all remains will be moved to Georgetown in body bags. Identification of remains is becoming increasingly difficult; visual means are no longer feasible. Identification of over half of the bodies will have to be attempted in the U.S. in the last 24-hours, no new Jonestown survivors have been discovered. The GOG forces continue to search the Jonestown area for survivors. More U.S. military aircraft will be in the area tomorrow and will be available for search and rescue operations.
The embassy has taken possession of the passports found at Jonestown and will forward a list to the department as quickly as possible. In addition, the embassy has cabled the names of 915 People’s Temple members provided by the Guyanese immigration authorities.
This information will assist SCA in locating next of kin and, possibly, in determining the number of persons residing at the People’s Temple compound. Survivors have provided a map locating a small cemetery in the Jonestown area where several People’s Temple members may have been buried prior to November 18. U.S. personnel will attempt to locate the cemetery.
Embassy Georgetown has requested permission to retain a local attorney to assist as necessary in handling the personal efforts of the Jonestown dead. Ara and l will discuss this matter tomorrow and will inform Georgetown of their decision.
We have asked the embassy to obtain additional identifying information on the helicopter spare parts requested by the Guyanese. Embassy Caracas reports that the Venezuelan air force may be willing to provide one twin Otter to the Guyanese and will follow up on this lead.
Embassy Port of Spain reports that none of the four Temple members who had arrived there returned to the embassy on November 22. The embassy passed our request for an FBI visit to a foreign office official, who will inform the foreign minister of it tomorrow. The embassy speculates that the foreign minister may take the request to the cabinet which does not meet until Friday. The Guyanese government has not yet responded to our latest request for an FBI visit.
Vance [Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State]