Japan to sent helicopters, transport planes, and soldiers to aid earthquake relief in Pakistan

Japan will send military helicopters, transport planes, and soldiers to Pakistan to distribute aid and evacuate victims of the powerful earthquake that killed more than 35,000 people in South Asia, the government's top spokesman said Wednesday.

The mission will entail two or three helicopters flown to the quake zone aboard three or four C-130 transport planes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said at a regular news briefing. About 110 Japanese troops will accompany the equipment.

"The dispatch order will be enacted as soon as preparations are made," Hosoda said, adding it will take several days for the unit to arrive.

Two Japanese were killed in Saturday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake when a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad collapsed. Tokyo has since confirmed the safety of five other Japanese permanently residing in Pakistan, though the condition of three tourists there was still unknown.

On Tuesday, Japan pledged US$20 million (17 million) in aid to Pakistan. Japan has also sent a disaster relief team and an emergency medical team and had earlier pledged 25 million yen (US$221,000; 182,000) worth of relief goods, including blankets, tents and water purifiers, reports the AP. I.L.

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