U.N. World Food Program begins emergency airlift supplies to Asian quake victims

The U.N. World Food Program began a major airlift of emergency supplies to earthquake-stricken parts of Pakistan, where survivors remain desperately short of food and shelter. The United States, meanwhile, shifted military aircraft from neighboring Afghanistan to the worsening humanitarian crisis.

Japan responded on Tuesday to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's appeal for more international aid with a pledge of US$20 million (17 million), Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said. Hosoda said Japan was ready to provide more help upon request.

Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono said Tokyo was considering dispatching helicopters for disaster relief.

The Singapore government on Tuesday promised US$200,000 (166,000) in humanitarian relief for Pakistan.

The U.N. airlift of supplies began Monday night, and more planes were to arrive Tuesday with medical supplies, generators and high-energy biscuits, the United Nations said.

Desperate Pakistanis huddled against the cold and some looted food stores Monday because aid still had not reached remote areas of Kashmir, the center of Saturday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake, which flattened villages, cut off power and water, and killed between 20,000 and 30,000.

Musharraf said his government was doing its best to respond to the crisis. He appealed for international help, particularly for cargo helicopters to reach remote areas cut off by landslides, reports the AP. I.L.

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