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World rushes aid to Pakistan

October 10, 2005

LONDON (Reuters) – Donor nations rushed doctors,
helicopters, food, tents and sniffer dogs to help the victims
of Pakistan’s devastating earthquake on Monday as the death
toll topped 20,000.

Aid agencies said more than 120,000 people, many of them
children, were in urgent need of shelter and up to four million
could be left homeless by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake which
wrecked buildings and villages in Pakistan’s northern
mountains.

The quake, South Asia’s strongest for 100 years, may also
have killed another 2,000 people in India.

World leaders stepped up pledges of support on Monday,
sending more rescue teams and helicopters, while U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he had instructed all parts
of the U.N. system to do everything possible to help.

The International Red Cross said it aimed to provide
emergency food and shelter to 120,000 vulnerable people
stranded in the freezing autumn conditions.

“Affected people require immediate shelter, food, clothing
and medicines,” said Australian Red Cross spokesman Dale
Cleaver, adding heavy-lift cargo helicopters were needed.

More flights carrying rescuers and aid were expected from
Russia, the United States, Iran and other countries, Pakistan
Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. “The
international assistance is pouring in and we are grateful,”
she said.

BUSH OFFERS HELP

U.S. President George W. Bush telephoned Pakistan’s
President Pervez Musharraf, whom he counts as a key ally in the
U.S.-led war against terrorism, to offer American helicopters
and an initial $50 million in emergency aid funds.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this
horrible tragedy,” Bush told reporters in Washington, echoing
an outpouring of sympathy from across the world.

In Britain, which has a large Pakistani community, the
response was overwhelming, aid agencies said, with millions of
pounds expected in donations. The country has already sent two
rescue teams to the quake region and the government pledged one
million pounds, which would be increased.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said aid trucks were being
sent from its warehouse in Peshawar to the badly affected
Mansehra district in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

“We are extremely concerned about those who have been left
with no shelter, no heat and none of the basic essentials
required for daily subsistence,” Antonio Guterres, U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement issued in
Geneva.

NATO prepared to offer troops, aircraft and humanitarian
aid and said it could act as a clearing house for aid offers.

In the Arab world, Kuwait donated $100 million for quake
relief, Yemen said it would send two aid planes, and United
Arab Emirates Red Crescent teams traveled to the region.

Sri Lanka, a major victim of the Asian tsunami, pledged
$100,000 in assistance for Pakistan’s quake victims.

South Africa said it was sending 18 doctors, 10 paramedics,
and thirty tonnes of aid.

North Korea sent a message of sympathy to Musharraf, the
secretive nation’s official news agency KCNA said on Monday.

South Korea said it would provide $3 million in aid and
send rescue workers to Pakistan on Tuesday.

A 46-member search and rescue team including 18 medical
officers from Malaysia was due to leave for Pakistan on Monday.

Malaysia has also pledged $1 million in aid, while
Australia on Monday lifted its aid contribution from $380,000
to $4.2 million, with the possibility of more if needed, to
help aid agencies provide food and shelter.

Pakistan’s Foreign office said Russia, the United Arab
Emirates and Spain had sent sniffer dogs, while specialist
rescue teams had been sent by Britain, France, China and
Turkey.

The Asian Development Bank said it would offer $10 million,
reallocated from existing projects, for immediate assistance.

Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
also sent help, while Hong Kong’s richest tycoon Li Ka-shing
said he would donate $500,000.

The World Health Organization pledged to send medical
supplies and disaster relief experts.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh phoned Musharraf to
offer help with relief and rescue work — another sign of
easing tensions between the nuclear-armed countries, once
arch-rivals.

(Additional reporting by Reuters bureaux)

(QUAKE-SUBCONTINENT-WORLD, editing by Giles Elgood;
james.grubel@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging:
james.grubel.reuters.com@reuters.net, +612 6273 2730))




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