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Flood aid trickles into remote Mexican towns

Poor Indian villages along Mexico's Pacific coast are seeing small quantities of badly needed aid trickle in nearly a week after Hurricane Pauline trampled across the region.

Navy helicopters are bringing food and medicine to remote towns that the storm cut off even further from the rest of the country. Most bridges are down and roads are impassable, with scores of villages locked by mud, rock slides or flood-severed highways.But the weather is usually bad, the aircraft are small and bureaucracy is slowing the airborne aid down, leaving isolated peasants largely to their own devices as they try to rebuild.

In this Zapotec Indian community in Oaxaca state, men, women and children ran waving, crying and laughing Tuesday to greet a Navy helicopter that defied dense fog to land in these rugged mountains.

But their joy at seeing visitors turned sour when military personnel unloaded only 60 boxes of basic foods and three crates of boxed milk.

Each package of food contained two pounds of beans, two pounds of rice and a can of sardines - enough to feed two people for two days, officials estimate.

It was nowhere near enough for the 800 large families that live here - but it was all that could be crammed into the helicopter on a choppy, foggy day.

"This is what they gave us on Saturday, and they don't come back until today," cried Alba Jose Martinez. "We need more!"

President Ernesto Zedillo and Health Secretary Juan Ramon de la Fuente admitted Tuesday that delivering supplies to isolated communities is one of the most vexing problems of recovery from Pauline's torrential floods.

Zedillo promised more helicopters to speed aid delivery.