A group of U.S. Army Chinook helicopters have begun delivering disaster relief supplies to outlying areas of Pakistan, as part of a mission in areas devastated by last year’s earthquake.
Three CH-47 Chinooks ferried some 3,000 sheets of corrugated iron about 60 miles northeast of Islamabad; the material is to be used to build more sturdy structures for survivors and displaced villagers.
With winter approaching, international aid agencies have sounded alarms about whether tents and other shelters donated after the quake were sturdy or warm enough for cold weather and snow.
“If we can get these supplies to the people, it increases their chance of survival when the winter months get here,” Warrant Officer 3 Robert Shrader, a Chinook pilot, was quoted as saying in a military news release.
The relief flights are also carrying bags of concrete mix, pipes and other rebuilding materials, officials said.
“Many of us were here last year just after the earthquake happened, so to see the reconstruction progressing and seeing these people continue on with their lives is very satisfying. I’m glad I get to be a part of it,” Shrader said.
On Oct. 8 of last year, a huge 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit areas of northern Pakistan, Kashmir and India.
Nearly 80,000 people were killed, with hundreds of thousands more injured or left homeless.
U.S. officials said that over the next four years, an additional $200 million in relief supplies and funds would go to the recovery effort.
Earlier in the week, U.S. senators Jack Reed and Dick Durbin — who also visited troops in Iraq and Afghanistan — met with U.S. troops in Pakistan to get an update on the mission.