[Editor’s notes: This document appears as Serial 50, as Serial 223, and as Serial 466 in the FBI RYMUR release and as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE294495_d.html.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
(GUYANA WORKING GROUP)
Situation Report No. VIII
Situation in Guyana as of 1830 Hours (EST), November 20, 1978
Reports by Guyanese police to U.S. Embassy Georgetown state 363 bodies of Peoples Temple adherents have been counted so far at Jonestown, including body of Rev. James Jones. Embassy believes some Jonestown residents fled into bush. There may also be additional dead not yet found.
DOD communications team has gone to Jonestown but communications system not yet functioning. Advice from pathologists in U.S. makes it questionable that after 50 hours bodies at Jonestown can be evacuated and local burial may be required.
U.S. military now plans fly in three large helicopters (HH-53), to be refueled in air, plus four smaller helicopters aboard 2 C-141s. USAF has not yet determined suitability of Matthew’s Ridge for C-130 use. By Wednesday morning we anticipate having about 200 American military in Guyana to assist in operation.
FBI has ordered six agents to stand by to assist in investigations if requested by GOG [Government of Guyana].
Bodies of Congressman Ryan and three newsmen will be flown out to U.S. late November 20.
Peoples Temple lawyer Mark Lane and colleague Charles Garry are in Georgetown and gave press conference November 20.
U.S. military does not possess Otter or similar aircraft as requested by GOG but other solution being examined.
John Bushnell, ARA Director
Guyana Working Group
Senior Watch Officer