Marine Helicopters Join Flood-relief Efforts in Pakistan
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2010 As part of the ongoing U.S. aid to Pakistan, two Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters arrived today at Pano Aqil Air Base near Sukkur, Pakistan, bringing the total number of U.S. helicopters in that area to six.
The aircraft are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. defense representative in Pakistan. They were delivered via Air Force cargo aircraft to a U.S. base in Afghanistan, reassembled, and then flown to Pano Aqil.
The helicopters will support flood-relief efforts alongside 17 other Navy and Marine Corps helicopters already in country, Ryder said. Two additional CH-53Es are due to arrive soon, he added.
To date, U.S. military aircraft have transported more than 3.9 million pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies and rescued more than 12,000 people within Pakistan.
“The flood waters are still causing a significant issue in south Pakistan,” Ryder said. “We are in close contact with [Pakistani] leadership and their national disaster management authority so we can be responsive to their needs and quickly provide what they ask for.”
These efforts are part of the United States’ overall efforts to assist Pakistan with the flooding disaster. Over the past two days, the U.S. government has airlifted additional emergency relief supplies into Pakistan, officials said. The most recent flights contained more than 85,850 blankets and 46,800 10-liter water containers.
To date, the United States has provided more than $216 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to Pakistan, as well as religiously appropriate meals, prefabricated steel bridges and other infrastructure support.
Officials estimate that between 15 million and 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the flooding, and about 1,500 have been killed.