Authorities in Pakistan estimate that at least twenty-three thousand people have died in the wake of a massive earthquake near the Pakistan-India border. The epicenter of the quake was in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The death toll in Indian-administered Kashmir is believed to be at least one-thousand people. Relief officials estimate more than forty-thousand people throughout the region have been injured and over one-million are homeless.
Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf called on his countrymen and foreign donors to help the victims of the earthquake. “Together we will overcome this tragedy in this difficult hour for Pakistan,” he said. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says Americans are rushing aid to the stricken region:
"In response to that disaster, the United States has announced an initial contribution of up to fifty million dollars. . . We’ve provided eight military helicopters to the region, to Pakistan, and they’re helping to ferry supplies and support the relief operations."
Major Matthew McLaughlin, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, says:
“The United States Central Command is committed, and has in the past aided countries that are our formal allies and are not our formal allies. Central Command looks to provide what assistance it can to nations within its area of responsibility, and, in this case, the fact that Pakistan was an ally simply speeds our ability to deliver those supplies that the Pakistanis have requested.”
President George W. Bush telephoned President Musharraf and expressed America’s “deepest condolences” and promised support. “Pakistan is a friend of the United States government and the people of the United States will help as best we possibly can,” Mr. Bush said.
On October 12, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made a short visit to Pakistan to offer the sympathy and support of the United States. She said: "I just want the people of Pakistan to know that our thoughts are with you, that we will be with you in your hour of need and that we will be with you not just today, but also tomorrow as you try to rebuild."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.