U.S. forces in Afghanistan were gearing up to deploy eight helicopters Monday to neighboring Pakistan to help rush aid to those affected by the weekend's devastating earthquake.
Five twin-rotor Chinook transporters and three Blackhawks were to leave Bagram, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan, later Monday and fly to the affected region, said U.S. spokeswoman Sgt. Marina Evans.
"They are going to stay there for a while," she said. "They will assist with emergency recovery operations."
She said the deployment would not reduce the capacity of the 11,000-strong U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, which is fighting Taliban-led rebels.
U.S. President George W. Bush announced the deployment in Washington on Sunday.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has asked the United States and other nations for help, particularly cargo helicopters to bypass roads that have been made impassible by mudslides.
"One of the biggest concerns for the government of Pakistan is not enough airlift capacity to get to some of these rural areas where people are suffering," Bush said. "So we're moving choppers," reports the AP.