Number of U.S. personnel helping with quake relief to exceed 1,000
ARLINGTON, Va. — The number of U.S. personnel in Pakistan helping with earthquake relief efforts is expected to surpass 1,000, said the director of the U.S. Disaster Assistance Center in Islamabad.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters via telephone Monday, Rear Adm. Michael LeFever said 536 U.S. personnel are in Pakistan, including personnel with a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital from European Command.
The United States is bringing in another hospital from the III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa along with personnel for additional aircraft, LeFever said.
In the past two weeks, the U.S. forces have delivered 532 tons of humanitarian assistance, and 53 tons of medical supplies, LeFever said.
U.S. helicopters have flown 596 sorties, delivering supplies and evacuating more than 2,500 casualties to the capital, Islamabad, for medical care, LeFever said.
LeFever said he could not confirm a media report that the Pakistani government was siphoning relief supplies slated for earthquake victims.
On Tuesday, U.S. forces were to airdrop supplies via C-130 Hercules aircraft to remote areas hit by the earthquake, he said.
He said a construction battalion from Okinawa was also expected to begin road-clearing and other operations Thursday in a region near the earthquake’s epicenter.
LeFever said the devastation will require international assistance for years to come.
He also said U.S. forces were in Pakistan to help their allies in the war on terrorism.
“They’ve stood by us; they’re undaunting, and that’s what friends do, and let’s support them,” he said.