[Editor’s notes: This document appears as Serial 250 in the FBI RYMUR release and as State Department cable 297277 in the State Department release.
[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE297277_d.html. This URL may be available through the Wayback Machine.]
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[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]
Drafted by ARA:EO’Donnell
Approved by ARA:SRGibson
0 240755Z NOV 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
[Listing of 10 additional American embassies and Air Force bases appear on pdf]
CONFIDENTIAL STATE 297277
E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO), GY
SUBJECT: Situation Report No. 17
Three C-141 aircraft carrying a total of 202 bodies have arrived at Dover AFB; a fourth flight carrying sixty-eight
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bodies is scheduled to arrive 0200 hours EST November 24. Another 140 bodies remain in the Jonestown area, most of them prepared for shipment. Barring unforeseen circumstances all the 410 (including the five bodies from Georgetown) will have been evacuated to the US by November 24. The Embassy has given highest praise to the US military personnel involved in the airlift and processing operations who have been working long hours under almost unimaginable conditions given the elapsed time since the deaths.
The Embassy has confirmed 78 “survivors”; one US helicopter committed to search and rescue operations throughout the day did not find any new survivors in the Jonestown area. The mixed US-Guyanese crew reported that the heavy canopy made visual search difficult. They have concentrated on river banks, trails and jungle paths. The helicopter crew talked with Indians and visited the site of a former People’s Temple (PT) store in a coastal town; but they obtained no additional information about survivors. The Guyanese police search effort has continued on the ground with US forces providing supplies, equipment and airlift. Tomorrow more helicopters will be devoted to the search.
The Task Force has authorized (by telephone) Embassy to proceed with offer of monetary reward to Guyanese in area for information leading to the discovery of additional survivors or bodies. DOD has been asked to expedite delivery of additional equipment requested by GOG [Government of Guyana] for search operations including such items as small river boats and outboard motors, life jackets, and snake bite kits. US personnel and material are likely to be required in Guyana for an indeterminate period of time to participate in
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search and rescue operations.
Embassy Georgetown is reviewing 804 US passports of People’s Temple members which were recovered yesterday. About 65 additional US passports were recovered today. An Embassy officer also located ten file cabinets including medical and financial documents, records of communications with San Francisco, tapes and membership papers of the People’s Temple organization.
One People’s Temple member [Charles Touchette] in Port of Spain, Trinidad with the PT supply vessel said his wife [Joyce Touchette], who had been responsible for logging PT members’ passports, had made the statistical analysis by age and sex. She had told him three months ago that there were 954 residents of Jonestown, including about 300 under the age of 16. Another clue to the community’s size is a solidarity petition signed by more than six hundred PT members. Efforts to resolve the various estimates of the size of the Jonestown population are continuing.
Embassy believes that three more People’s Temple members may be arrested by GOG authorities soon. The one already arrested has been charged with five counts of homicide. The usual initial consular visit has been made.
The legal attaché from Caracas will travel with a consular officer to Jonestown tomorrow to obtain serial numbers of the weapons. GOG has still not responded to our request for six more FBI agents to enter the country, nor has the GOG yet given permission for survivors to leave. Embassy estimates that the first group of survivors will probably not be repatriated before Saturday. Survivors at this point are not complaining about the delay.
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Arrangements have been made for survivors to be accompanied on the flight by five sky marshals from the Department of Justice who will be part of the aircraft crew. Charleston will be the port of entry (not visible to the public).
The AID doctor today visited the three hospitalized cases and reported that, while two of them might receive better treatment if transferred, this is not imperative. The third patient cannot be moved for several days at least.
FBI Director [William] Webster has issued a statement that based on fingerprint information, a positive identification has been made of the body of People’s Temple founder Jim Jones.
Christopher [Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher]