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Appeal for helicopters in Pakistan relief effort

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Appeal for helicopters in Pakistan relief effort


The UN’s food agency, the World Food Programme, says it urgently needs more helicopters to distribute aid to the millions cut off by high waters in Pakistan.

It has managed to secure five more, bringing the total to 15, and says it will use as many as it can get.

What the UN Secretary General called a “slow-motion tsunami” can be seen in satellite pictures as one river in the south burst its banks. The first photo shows a thin line of water snaking from bottom left to top right. In the second photo the water has spread and virtually fills the screen.

“Our homes have been destroyed, we don’t have them anymore,” said one flood victim. “We’re in the open air, we’re not getting food, we’re dying from hunger, what do we eat, stones?”

“The situation is very serious and worse is to come,” said Doctor Guido Sabatinelli, head of the World Health Organisation in Pakistan. “We are receiving some good pledges. We cannot buy drugs with pledges, we need to convert these into cheques.”

The pledges amount to about 60 percent of the UN’s appeal for 360 million euros.

The floods have affected a fifth of Pakistan: the area under water bigger than most countries.

The battle to prevent a second wave of deaths is intensifying.

While the EU is to urge member states to back trade concessions for Pakistan, the country’s plight will echo in the corridors of the IMF next week.

Islamabad wants to renegotiate an eight-billion euro loan, arguing the catastrophe makes it impossible to meet the repayment conditions.

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