Kerry tours quake-hit Pakistani region

U.S. Senator John Kerry toured earthquake-devastated parts of northern Pakistan on Friday, distributing school uniforms and meeting local leaders at a tented village funded partly by both the United States and communist Cuba. "We're sorry you have to go through this," said Kerry, a Democratic from Massachusetts and veteran of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The former presidential candidate toured a tent village housing around 18,000 survivors of the Oct. 8 7.6-magnitude earthquake which killed at least 87,000 people and left around 3.5 million homeless, mostly in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and the country's North West Frontier Province.

Striding between neat rows of plastic tents erected with the help of the United States, Cuba and China, Kerry also visited a makeshift school that now serves around 3,000 children. Many of the students had never been to school prior to being housed in Meira. "It's wonderfully organized, I think," Kerry said of the camp, after handing out blue school uniforms to boys and girls sitting in dirt in front of the tents that serve as classrooms.

Many camp residents expressed thanks for the aid, but were worried about rebuilding when they return to their demolished homes in the next few months. Mohammed Sarfraz, deputy mayor of the refugee camp, pleaded with Kerry and outside donors to keep the aid coming after the snows melt and the survivors go home. "We need to live like human beings," Sarfraz said. "There's nothing left there but dust and rubble", reports the AP. N.U.