HONOLULU — A supply ship dropped anchor Monday off one of the Marshall Islands to unload a cargo of U.S. surplus food for residents evacuated from an atoll covered by atomic fallout 31 years ago, the environmental group Greenpeace said.
The Marshall Islands ship Militobi was diverted from its destination at Rongelap Atoll and sent to Mejato Island after Greenpeace spokesmen said that the food supply for the 260 persons evacuated from Rongelap was "getting desperate."
Reports from the area, more than 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, came from Greenpeace representatives aboard the group's vessel Rainbow Warrior, which was being used to ferry the islanders to their new home.
The Rainbow Warrior was expected to leave Mejato today to pick up the 40 remaining islanders on Rongelap, as well as five outrigger canoes, pigs and chickens, according to Dick Dillman, Greenpeace's radio operator in San Francisco.
The final voyage will be the fourth 200-mile round trip of the evacuation, which began May 16 at the request of Rongelap leaders, who said they feared that the lingering effects of nuclear radiation from a Bikini Atoll test in 1954 posed a health threat to children.