US aid arrives in Pakistan
SOHBATPUR, Pakistan – A shipload of United States Marines and helicopters arrived to boost relief efforts in flooded Pakistan yesterday, but the prime minister told The Associated Press his country needed more international help to cope with one of the worst natural disasters in its history. The United Nations warned the crisis was far from over, saying dams in Sindh province could still burst in the coming days. More rain fell around the country, and monsoon season is forecast to last several weeks still. Spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said United Nations officials roughly estimated that up to one-fourth of the country is or had been affected by the floods, though those areas were not necessarily under water.
The government has been sharply criticized for a slow and patchy response to the floods, which has killed 1 500 people and left an estimated seven million people needing emergency assistance, their homes destroyed, damaged or inundated with muddy water and unlivable.President Asif Ali Zardari – whose decision to go ahead with a trip to Europe when the disaster began was condemned by many – made his first visit to victims of the disaster, according to state-run Pakistan Television that gave few details of the trip. The United States has pledged $71 million in emergency assistance to the country, which is key in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban as well as stabilising neighbouring Afghanistan. It has also deployed the military to help, as it often does after major disasters. The USS Peleliu arrived off the coast near Karachi yesterday along with helicopters and about 1 000 Marines