U.S.: Aid to Pakistan up to $50M
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States will provide initial aid of up to $50 million for reconstruction and relief efforts in Pakistan in the aftermath of a weekend earthquake that killed at least 30,000 people across the region.
"The destruction and loss of life in Pakistan is massive, and the United States is responding rapidly and robustly," a statement from the White House press secretary said late Sunday.
"In response to the request of President (Pervez) Musharraf and the Government of Pakistan, the United States is providing an initial contribution of up to $50 million for relief and reconstruction following the earthquake that struck on October 8."
A top U.S. military official was scheduled to arrive Monday in Islamabad to begin coordinating with Pakistani officials how the United States will deliver aid to northern Pakistan, U.S. military officials said Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commander of the combined forces command, Afghanistan, will also spearhead the formation of a U.S. military task force to help coordinate the distribution of U.S. aid to the earthquake-devastated areas in the coming weeks, the officials said.
President Bush announced Sunday that the United States would deploy eight helicopters, which are also expected to arrive Monday morning in the affected area.
In a written statement Sunday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment, and medical support are being identified and dispatched from within the Central Command region."
The commander of Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, has also been in touch with military officials in Pakistan.
Eikenberry is the senior U.S. military official in the region representing the United States in its ongoing coordination with Afghan and Pakistani troops, and, therefore, meets with them on a regular basis.
Military officials predicted this relationship would facilitate the coordination of earthquake-relief efforts.
Military officials also predicted that U.S. military assistance for the earthquake efforts would grow.
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
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