Pakistan Aid Approaches 8 Million Pounds

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2010 — U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel con­tin­ue to aid mil­lions of Pak­ista­nis affect­ed by flood­ing in the coun­try, defense offi­cials said today.

Marine Corps heli­copters trans­port­ed near­ly 317,000 pounds of relief sup­plies in Pak­istan yes­ter­day, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said. Fixed-wing air­craft oper­at­ing out of Afghanistan trans­port­ed 44,000 pounds of sup­plies, and U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft res­cued 701 dis­placed peo­ple yes­ter­day, he added.

Unusu­al­ly heavy mon­soon rains caused the Indus Riv­er and its trib­u­taries to over­flow in late July. The floods washed away bridges, roads, rail­ways and thou­sands of build­ings. The Pak­istani gov­ern­ment ordered mil­lions of peo­ple to evac­u­ate their homes and vil­lages, and it now is strug­gling to keep up with the evac­uees’ needs and rebuild­ing the coun­try.

The amount of U.S. aid pro­vid­ed to Pak­istan to date has been impres­sive, Lapan said. U.S. mil­i­tary aid oper­a­tions began Aug. 5 with Army heli­copters from Afghanistan deliv­er­ing sup­plies and res­cu­ing those trapped by flood­ing. Marine heli­copters from the USS Peleliu replaced the Army air­craft, and togeth­er they have deliv­ered 4.8 mil­lion pounds or relief sup­plies. Air Force C-130s and C-17s have been deliv­er­ing aid since Aug. 16. To date, air­men have deliv­ered 3.1 mil­lion pounds of aid. This brings the total to almost 8 mil­lion pounds of aid, Lapan said.

The U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft have res­cued 16,299 peo­ple to date. All Amer­i­can aid is at the request of the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment, the colonel said.

Aer­i­al oper­a­tions in Pak­istan are chal­leng­ing, offi­cials said. Much of the country’s infra­struc­ture was washed away with the floods. The increased mois­ture has meant trou­bles with fog and haze. In the north­west­ern part of the coun­try, rough ter­rain and high alti­tude fur­ther com­pli­cate the aid mis­sions.

The mil­i­tary heli­copters come from the USS Peleliu, and are oper­at­ing from Pak­istani air bases and the amphibi­ous assault ship. The USS Kearsarge is join­ing the Peleliu in inter­na­tion­al waters off the coast of Pak­istan. The two crews will work togeth­er to bring aid to the mil­lions of Pak­ista­nis affect­ed by the floods.

“They both may be there for some peri­od of time,” Lapan said. “It will not be a hand-off. It depends … on what the need is that deter­mines when the Peleliu departs.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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