U.S. sends helicopters, supplies to earthquake-stricken Pakistan | VailDaily.com

U.S. sends helicopters, supplies to earthquake-stricken Pakistan

WASHINGTON – The decision to send military cargo planes and helicopters to assist earthquake victims in Pakistan should not hinder operations in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.During a visit to the Pakistani Embassy, Rumsfeld called the earthquake “a tragedy of enormous proportions.”Rumsfeld, who visited the embassy with his wife Joyce, said he spoke with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf Monday afternoon to offer condolences. On Monday evening, the Rumsfelds signed a condolence book at the embassy.The defense secretary said he has no concerns the shift of some supplies by General John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, will interfere with military operations in neighboring Afghanistan.”He has taken the resources he can spare and moved them over very quickly because they can move them quickly from that region,” Rumsfeld said.The Pentagon announced Monday it will set up a humanitarian center in Pakistan, as the U.S. continued to pour food, medicine and other supplies into the earthquake-stricken region.Navy Rear Admiral Michael Lefever has been charged with setting up the center in Islamabad, to help coordinate the U.S. response to the quake that struck South Asia on Saturday.Three cargo planes arrived in Islamabad on Monday with blankets, tents, prepared meals, plastic sheeting and water. Four more flights were expected, including one carrying Lefever and a disaster response team.Among the initial supplies headed to Pakistan were 12 pallets of food and medicine from U.S. supplies in Qatar and Kuwait, 5,000 blankets, 5,000 water containers and 250 rolls of plastic sheeting, to be used by about 2,500 families.The Pentagon was also preparing to send heavy lift and supply helicopters from Bahrain and Afghanistan, along with other engineering support.The U.S. government is committing $1 million to the American Red Cross in addition to an initial contribution of $100,000. In Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said Washington had pledged up to $50 million in aid.India, which also felt the impact of the earthquake, is assessing its needs. In the meantime, $100,000 from the ambassador’s emergency fund was turned over to Indian authorities.Vail, Colorado

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