ISLAMABAD - November 10 - A large-scale helicopter is scheduled to begin emergency aid deliveries tomorrow to areas of Pakistan devastated by last month’s 7.6-magnitude earthquake and currently inaccessible via roads closed by landslides. The newly arrived helicopter is capable of carrying 10 times the weight of choppers used previously in Pakistan for humanitarian rescue.
The United Nations has imported the MI-26 Russian helicopter specifically to deliver emergency food rations to isolated villages and for road reconstruction. Four more MI-26s are expected shortly.
Until now, humanitarian deliveries have been made chiefly by MI-8 helicopters that can carry a maximum weight of two metric tons. MI-26s can carry 20 metric tons.
Tomorrow’s food delivery via MI-26 will be made by Action Against Hunger (ACF), an international non-profit aid organization, working with the United Nations’ World Food Program. The huge chopper will join MI-8s to deliver 140 tons of such nutritional essentials as wheat flour, oil, salt, and high-energy biscuits.
The distributions will be targeted at mountain communities surrounding Rashang in the Alai valley. Assessments made in the past weeks by Action Against Hunger have indicated a potential food crisis during the winter months if distributions did not take place right away.
Heavy rains predicted for tomorrow, however, could delay the initial delivery until Saturday.
Action Against Hunger, which had been operational in Pakistan until 2004, re-entered the country and immediately began providing assistance days after the October 2005 earthquake. ACF is now working in the areas surrounding Batagram and Balakot, distributing nutritional rations and shelter items, and working to rehabilitate water and sanitation infrastructures.