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CJTF-76 continues Pakistan earthquake relief efforts

By Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Lane

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Oct. 19, 2005)-–Ten days after a devastating earthquake shook Pakistan, killing an estimated 40,000 people, relief supplies and personnel from the Combined Joint Task Force-76 continue to flow into the country.

Initially eight helicopters, five Ch-47 Chinooks and three Uh-60 Blackhawks, were sent to Islamabad to assist with relief and rescue efforts there.

Since their arrival, the aircraft have flown more then 73 missions accumulating more then 78 hours of flight time and lifting more then 966 multi-national rescue personnel to various areas affected by the quake. The helicopters have delivered about a quarter of a million pounds of relief supplies and have carried nearly a thousand injured Pakistanis.

“This is truly a joint effort,” said Lt. Col. Andy Rohling, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Chief of Operations. “Soldiers from all services and from all coalition nations are here at Bagram voluntarily working to prepare these supplies for Pakistan. They are working 24 hours a day; seven days a week to make sure these items are ready to be airlifted. Relief effort is something we have a lot of experience with. We’ve been doing these kinds of missions here in Afghanistan for a very long time.”

Rescue personnel, including five U.S. Army medics and one physician’s assistant, arrived in country shortly after the earthquake. The medics accompanied the helicopters carrying supplies to inaccessible areas and treated the wounded individuals who were brought to civilian hospitals on the return flight.

In addition to the six medical personnel, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is being moved to Pakistan to assist Pakistan medical facilities with the treatment of the wounded. The hospital has a staff of more than 190 medical personnel and can treat more than 30 inpatients at a time.

Eight U.S. Army engineers from the Combined Joint Task Force-76 are also in Pakistan conducting aerial reconnaissance of damage to major roadways and other infrastructure.

More than 80,000 pounds of relief supplies have been flown into country since the start of relief operations. Of those 80,000 pounds, 20,000 were dropped by parachute to remote regions made inaccessible by the earthquake’s damage.

The relief supplies consist of such items as tool kits, hygiene kits, tarps, blankets, stoves, rice and health kits. In addition, more than 3,500 prepared meals and nearly 2,500 gallons of bottled water were flown into the effected areas.

“Relief efforts are being coordinated with the government of Pakistan to ensure that the people there effected by this terrible tragedy are getting exactly what they need,” said Lt. Col. Edwin Hernandez, Combined Joint Task Force, Logistics.

“Ever bundle we make and every pallet we load onto an aircraft has the items that Pakistan officials have told us they needed the most. These supplies not only help the survivability of those who have lost everything in the quake but will also provide much needed protection against the upcoming winter months.”

(Editor’s note: This article was supplied by Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Lane, PAO, CJTF-76 Public Affairs)

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