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8 US military choppers to aid quake relief

October 10, 2005 14:37 IST
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US forces in Afghanistan were gearing up to deploy eight helicopters on Monday to neighboring Pakistan to help rush aid to those affected by the weekend's devastating earthquake.

Five twin-rotor Chinook transporters and three Blackhawks were to leave Bagram, the US military headquarters in Afghanistan, later Monday and fly to the affected region, said US spokeswoman Sgt Marina Evans.

"They are going to stay there for a while," she said. "They will assist with emergency recovery operations."

She said the deployment would not reduce the capacity of the 11,000-strong US-led coalition in Afghanistan, which is fighting Taliban-led rebels.

U.S. President George W Bush announced the deployment in Washington on Sunday.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked the United States and other nations for help, particularly cargo helicopters to bypass roads that have been made impassable by mudslides.

"One of the biggest concerns for the government of Pakistan is not enough airlift capacity to get to some of these rural areas where people are suffering," Bush said. "So we're moving choppers."

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