[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 47 and Serial 468 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE294561_d.html.]
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
(GUYANA WORKING GROUP)
Situation Report No. X
Situation in Guyana as of 0715 Hours (EST), November 21, 1978
We are awaiting Embassy views on our suggestion that the victims of the Jonestown tragedy be buried at Jonestown, given the long time of the bodies in open air and the fact that we won’t have significant helicopter lift capacity until Wednesday. Ambassador [John] Burke is currently consulting with the Guyanese authorities on this situation. Meanwhile the airlift of helicopters and supplies into Georgetown begins this morning with the arrival of three aircraft carrying support equipment and two unassembled helicopters. Local burial will not significantly reduce the need for U.S,. equipment and personnel needed to carry out search and rescue operations in cooperation with Guyanese authorities. Three HH-53 helicopters are scheduled to arrive in Georgetown tomorrow morning as well as four additional light helicopters.
Six FBI agents, Jim Ward (CA) and Fred Shaver [names withheld by FBI] (ICA) are scheduled to depart MacDill AFB at 11:55 am today. The agents will join a legal attaché from Caracas who arrived yesterday.
The Embassy is looking into the possibility that the otter damaged in the ambush at Port Kaituma can be repaired if parts were to be flown in by our military task force.
The press pool which visited Jonestown yesterday has begun to file detailed stories. The pool was made up of Charles Krause and Frank Johnson of the Washington Post, Mohamed Hamaludin of Reuters/CANA and a Guyanese photographer.
John Bushnell, ARA Director
Guyana Working Group
Senior Watch Officer