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United States Sends Help to Earthquake-Ravaged Region

Supplies, helicopters, support personnel provided in initial U.S. response

Posted: October 10, 2005

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a three-story hotel that collapsed in Islamabad, Pakistan, following the devastating earthquake on Saturday, October 8. The United States is providing an initial contribution of up to $50 million for relief and reconstruction and has dispatched an initial airlift of humanitarian supplies to the affected region. (© AP/WWP)

Responding to the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia October 8, the United States is rushing relief supplies and personnel to the affected area, the White House said October 10.

The earthquake, which hit a remote region in northern Pakistan near Islamabad, Pakistan, is estimated to have killed at least 30,000 people.

The White House said that in response to a request from the government of Pakistan, the United States is providing an initial contribution of up to $50 million for relief and reconstruction and would continue to coordinate with Pakistani officials to assess needs.

Pakistan’s initial request for aid, the White House said, included emergency shelter, food, water and medical supplies, as well as transportation assistance and emergency management personnel.

A C-17 U.S. military aircraft transporting blankets, winterized tents and other relief supplies arrived in Islamabad October 10, the White House said. A second C-17 and two C-130 aircraft were scheduled to arrive on October 11 and other military relief missions will follow, the White House said.

The initial airlift of relief commodities was sent to Pakistan on October 8 and included 250 rolls of plastic sheeting, 5,000 blankets and 5,000 water containers, the White House said. Those supplies began arriving in Islamabad October 10 from U.S. Central Command in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development has committed $1 million, to be provided through the American Red Cross, in response to an a preliminary emergency appeal from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. These funds are in addition to the $100,000 announced October 9 by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad (see related article), and the $100.000 announced October 10 by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi (see related article).

The Defense Department announced October 9 that it was sending eight helicopters to the area to help bring emergency relief to communities and villages – many of which are in remote areas not easily accessible by road. “Additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment and medical support are being identified and dispatched from within the Central Command region,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an October 9 statement.

Rumsfeld also said he would designate a task force commander in the region “to work with the affected governments, to assess their needs, and to draw on U.S. military capabilities from inside and outside the affected region as may be available and required.”

Subsequent to Rumsfeld’s statement, the Defense Department announced Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of the combined forces command, Afghanistan, will spearhead the formation of a U.S. military task force to help coordinate the distribution of U.S. aid to the earthquake-devastated areas in the coming weeks.

“Our prayers go with those who have lost loved ones in the terrible situation,” Rumsfeld said.

The White House also said emergency management assistance personnel were being dispatched to the area. A seven-person disaster assistance response team began arriving in Pakistan on October 10 to assess humanitarian aid, target and coordinate relief, and provide technical assistance. In addition, a 23-member contingency support group was en route to the area October 10 from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey to help in planning and logistical support.

The White House also recommended that Americans who want to make private contributions to the assistance effort should contact the American Red Cross or the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Rumsfeld’s statement is available on the Defense Department Web site.

Information on assistance provided by the U.S. Central Command is available on the command’s Web site.

For additional information on the earthquake and its aftermath, see U.S. Response to Earthquake.

Following is the text of the White House statement on the U.S. aid effort:

(begin text)

White House Press Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, DC
October 10, 2005

U.S Assistance for Earthquake in Pakistan

The destruction and loss of life in Pakistan is massive, and the United States is responding rapidly and robustly. In response to the request of President Musharraf and the Government of Pakistan, the United States is providing an initial contribution of up to $50 million for relief and reconstruction following the earthquake that struck on October 8. The Department of Defense is also providing additional assistance and capabilities. Pakistan's initial request includes emergency shelter, food, water and medical supplies, transportation assets, and emergency management personnel. We will continue to coordinate with the government of Pakistan to assess needs.

For the many Americans who will want to make private contributions to assist the victims of this disaster, we recommend that they contact the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org or the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at www.ifrc.org.

Following are details on the material assistance being provided as of 8:00 PM EDT, October 9.

Emergency Relief Supplies:

• A C-17 U.S. military aircraft containing blankets, winterized tents, and other relief supplies was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on October 10. A second C-17 and two C-130s are scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on October 11 and other military relief missions will follow.

* On October 8, the US dispatched an initial airlift of relief commodities to Pakistan including 250 rolls of plastic sheeting-sufficient for approximately 2,500 families- 5,000 blankets, and 5,000 water containers. The commodities are scheduled to arrive on October 10.

• USAID/OFDA in Washington committed $1 million to be provided through the American Red Cross in response to a Preliminary Emergency Appeal issued by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This was in addition to the $100,000 announced yesterday by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

Transportation Assets:

• Initially, eight U.S. military helicopters (five CH-47 Chinooks and three UH-60 Blackhawks) to assist in bringing emergency relief to communities and villages affected by the earthquake should arrive Monday. Some of the most severe damage from the earthquake has been sustained in remote areas not easily accessible by road. The helicopters will facilitate the delivery of relief supplies to these remote areas in Pakistan.

• Additional capabilities for damage assessment, heavy lift ground equipment, and medical support are being identified and dispatched from within the Central Command region.

Emergency Management Assistance:

• A seven-person Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) will begin arriving in Pakistan on October 10. The team's mission is to assess humanitarian needs, assist with targeting and coordination of U.S. assistance, and provide technical assistance as needed.

• A 23-member Contingency Support Group from McGuire Air Force Base is en route and will be involved in planning and logistics support.

• The United States Central Command will also be supplying capabilities for damage assessment to assist the Pakistani authorities.

Released on October 10, 2005

(end text)

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