Pakistan asks for help in earthquake relief

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf appealed for international aid in response to the earthquake that devastated the country's mountainous northeast, calling especially for cargo helicopters to bypass roads blocked by mudslides.

Musharraf said Pakistan needed medicine, tents, cargo helicopters and financial assistance to help survivors, the news agency Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda said the bank would reallocate $10 million (Ђ8.23 million) for immediate emergency assistance in the worst-affected areas of Pakistan. The European Union on Sunday committed $4.4 million (Ђ3.62 million) in emergency relief.

President George W. Bush said the United States would send an unspecified amount of cash and eight helicopters. He suggested the U.S. might send resources already based in the region, perhaps in bordering Afghanistan.

The governments of Japan, Thailand, Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Azerbaijan on Sunday combined pledged several million dollars in aid. China has promised $6.2 million (Ђ5.11 million), according to Islamabad, and Australia has promised $4.2 million (Ђ3.46 million).

The Canadian government promised at least $300,000 (Ђ247,035) in immediate aid.

Many countries quickly assembled aid and readied it for transport to the mountainous region, where landslides are reported to be making access extremely difficult.

Some teams had already reached Pakistan on Sunday, including a Russian rescue team, the first contingent of a British emergency rescue team and a U.N team of disaster coordination officials who set up three emergency centers.

The World Health Organization said it has provided Pakistan with two emergency health kits, which will provide essential medical supplies to care for a total of 20,000 people for three months.

A Spanish group, United Firefighters without Frontiers, said its rescue team had already arrived in Islamabad with two field hospitals and two tons of emergency equipment. Japanese, South Korean, Afghan and an additional Russian team of rescue workers and medical aid were expected late Sunday and Monday.

The Swedish Rescue Services Agency was sending tents and blankets and the Czech government said it was ready to send rescue teams with dogs.

The Malaysian Red Crescent said it was sending a relief team to Pakistan as soon as it received clearance from Islamabad, and that the team would be joined by Red Cross and Crescent workers from other Southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

The South African aid group Gift of the Givers planned to send a 15-member medical team as well as a donation to relief efforts in Pakistan.


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