Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Aussie troops to help quake victims

Australian troops will begin heading to Pakistan on Thursday to provide medical aid to earthquake victims before the start of a harsh winter which could push the death toll beyond 86,000. The first phase of the three-month mission, announced by Prime Minister John Howard on Wednesday, will begin leaving Sydney airport on Thursday.Troops taking part in the humanitarian mission will not be armed during their time in the dangerous border region and will instead be protected by Pakistani soldiers.

Apart from the troops, Australia will also send four Blackhawk helicopters to provide medical help in remote regions. Defence Minister Robert Hill said the medical team would include a command element, aviation detachment, as well as logistics and communication personnel. The RAAF will make its initial airlift to a base at Dhanni, 20km north east of the Pakistani city of Muzzaffarabad. Senator Hill said a central medical facility would be established at Dhanni and supplemented by mobile medical teams.

Source: Australian Associated Press
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