State Department officials said today that they do not know if or when survivors of the Jonestown, Guyana, mass suicide-murder will be brought here to the Charleston Air Force base.
"I wish I knew what I could tell you. But we are dealing with a great huge vat of uncertainty."Guyana task force spokeswoman Kate Marshall said.
Scores of reporters and federal officials have been here since Sunday - the day an estimated 80 survivors of the tragedy were expected to be flown here aboard C141 military aircraft.
Today was the next target date. Wednesday was supposed to be the next. But Marshall and other State Department officials said today that nothing was certain.
"It won't happen today. It probably will not happen tomorrow," she said.
She said part of the problem is that an undetermined number of the survivors are being held in Guyana officials. Also, some of the survivors may elect - or already may have elected - to return to the United States via commercial aircraft, Marshall said.
Marshall denied reports that seven elderly Jonestown survivors were enroute to Charleston today aboard military aircraft. "I can tell you that that is not true. But I can't confirm reports that they may have left Guyana aboard commercial aircraft," she said.
Meanwhile, reporters and federal officials, including about 30 FBI agents on standby to interview the Guyana survivors should they arrive, continue to wait. The twice-daily press briefings have become more brief and less informative.
However, today, John W. Stahl, 60, a security guard from Russellville, Ky., told reporters that the State Department sent him letter saying that his niece, whom he identified as Robin Tchetter, could be among the survivors, and despite the uncertainty, was still expected to arrive in Charleston sometime this week.
Stahl said he was told in the letter that the department believed that eight other relatives of his may be among the 914 People's Temple adherents who died in Jonestown.
"This girl, my niece, may be my herself. She may not have any other relatives except me," Stahl said.
So, he said with some funds provided by the Red Cross, he caught a plan to Charleston.