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U.S. Servicemembers Continue to Aid Pakistan Quake Victims

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2005 – American military personnel are working around the clock to deliver relief supplies to earthquake-stricken regions of Pakistan, Pentagon officials said.

About 875 U.S. servicemembers are flying missions and providing support to the area northeast of the capital of Islamabad. Winter is setting in to the region, and blankets, shelter, food, clean water and medical care are in short supply, officials in Pakistan said.

About 225 soldiers have deployed with the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to Muzaffarabad, the epicenter of the quake. The hospital has a surgical capability, and has 24 intensive-care-unit beds, 36 medical-surgical beds and 60 medium- to -minimal-care beds. A U.S. water-purification unit is also operational in the remains of the city.

About 125 engineers with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 are working to clear roads and set up shelters. The Defense Logistics Agency delivered 800 tents to the region, and another 1,000 are on the way, officials said.

A total of 24 Army and Navy helicopters are operating in the region, with nine more expected to begin operations soon. Weather is curtailing some flights, but military personnel are flying whenever and wherever possible, officials said.

Oct. 30 was a typical day, with the choppers flying 52 sorties, according to a news release from Pakistan. They airlifted more than 310,000 pounds of supplies and carried 583 passengers. They also evacuated 64 people.

Since the quake struck Oct. 8, U.S. helicopters have flown 885 missions and evacuated 3,138 people. They have delivered almost 3.5 million pounds of supplies to areas the quake isolated.

Air Force C-17 and C-130 aircraft have also delivered critical supplies to the region. The aircraft have also airdropped supplies to areas when the weather is too bad or the altitude too high for the choppers to fly.

There have been 95 airlift missions to Pakistan, carrying 882 tons of humanitarian-assistance supplies, 726 tons of equipment and 53 tons of medical supplies.

The Defense Department has also assisted Pakistan in moving relief supplies from foreign governments. American forces have delivered supplies from Bahrain, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates.

The Navy is moving relief supplies into Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and port. The USS Cleveland delivered 37 pieces of engineering equipment and relief supplies Oct 27. The USS Pearl Harbor made its second trip to the city and offloaded heavy engineering equipment Oct. 29. Two U.S.-funded contract ships are also under way to the port.

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