President Bush: U.S. is sending cash and helicopters to Pakistan after quake

The United States is sending cash and eight helicopters to Pakistan to help with earthquake rescue and recovery, President George W. Bush said Sunday.

With Pakistan's ambassador out of town, Bush invited the embassy's deputy chief of mission, Mohammad Sadiq, to the White House so Bush could offer his condolences in person. Bush also said he called Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The death toll from Saturday's magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Pakistan, a key ally of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, was about 20,000 but expected to rise, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on CNN.

Musharraf has asked other nations for help, particularly cargo helicopters to bypass roads that have been made impassible by mudslides. Bush implied that the United States might send more resources already based in the region, perhaps in bordering Afghanistan.

A State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said the eight U.S. helicopters are bringing relief supplies to remote areas of Pakistan. A C-17 military aircraft has been assigned to bring blankets, tents and other relief supplies, and a shipment of relief supplies via charter aircraft has been ordered. Other relief missions will follow, Cooper said.

The U.S. also is sending a seven-person team to Pakistan to assess relief needs and to coordinate assistance, Cooper said. The U.S. Agency for International Development has contributed $500,000 to the American Red Cross for Pakistan relief, reported AP.

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