Clark Air Base in the Philippines is all ready to receive the North Vietnamese-held United States prisoners of war who are to be released under the terms of the Vietnam ceasefire agreement that was signed in Paris on Saturday.
GV entrance Clark Airbase
Pressmen walk across tarmac
GV Press centre
Interior of Press Centre (3 shots)
Clocks showing various world times
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Clark Air Base in the Philippines is all ready to receive the North Vietnamese-held United States prisoners of war who are to be released under the terms of the Vietnam ceasefire agreement that was signed in Paris on Saturday.
According to the latest figures available on American prisoners named by Hanoi -- 555 military personnel and 22 civilians -- there could be nearly 150 passengers on the first evacuation flights out of Hanoi, which will be flown by Air Force aircraft out of Clark. Four C-9A "Nightingale" aircraft, each equipped to carry up to 40 stretcher patients, are standing on the tarmac ready to take off at short notice on the six-hour return flight to the North Vietnamese capital.
The massive United States Air Force complex, about 50 miles north of Manila, has nearly half of its hospital's 270 beds available for the returning prisoners, although there has been no official indication when the first evacuations will take place.
Correspondents have arrived at Clark from all ever the world to report on the return of the war prisoners. Facilities have been set up at the base for the instant transmission of stories.
Correspondents who toured the base on Tuesday were told that the returning prisoners would be treated as normal patients, though it appeared they would be carefully screened from other patients.
One hospital source said that the evacuees would be patients, not prisoners. He said: "where they actually go in the hospital will be a function of scheduling". Re added: "There will be no special administrator or doctor in charge of the returnees. They will be treated purely as patients."