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US Providing Aerial Reconnaissance To View Pakistan Quake Disaster

File photo the Global Hawk UAV

Washington (AFP) Oct 11, 2005
The US military is providing manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft as well as satellite imagery to help Pakistan get a fix on conditions in mountainous quake-stricken areas, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

It also plans to send more than 30 helicopters from Afghanistan, Bahrain and other locations to help relief efforts, said Lawrence DiRita, the Pentagon spokesman.

DiRita said the use of manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft was prompted by the difficult terrain where the 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday.

"Some of it goes up to 20,000 feet in altitude. So they need some help trying to understand exactly where the damage is and where the assistance is needed. So we're helping them with airborne reconnaissance," he told reporters.

He said the United States also was providing satellite imagery, noting that satellites were used after the hurricanes that struck the US gulf coast to map conditions on the ground.

"We're trying to provide a way for them to understand what's actually happening on the ground," DiRita said.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has asked for heavy equipment such as forklifts, bulldozers and trucks in addition to tents, blankets and food.

"We're going to try to see what we can do there," DiRita said.

US Air Force C-17 aircraft are flying supplies into the country and two C-130s are operating within Pakistan, he said.

Eight US military helicopters are already on the scene, including five CH-47s and three UH-60 Black Hawk's, he said. Four more were enroute, he said.

"Probably we'll get up over 25 to 30 in the next period ahead," he said. They will be MH-53 and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters.

DiRita said the airports in Islamabad are very busy now with international aid flowing in, so it was not known when they will be in place.

In the meantime the US military is operating relief missions out of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, he said.

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