US Marine helicopters join Pakistan flood relief

Two US Marine helicopters arrived in Pakistan on Thursday to join relief and rescue operations in areas hit by massive floods in the country’s worst catastrophe, the US embassy said.

The two aircraft are the first of 19 extra helicopters that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates urgently ordered to Pakistan on Wednesday, it said.

The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters flew into Pakistan from the USS Peleliu, which is positioned in international waters in the Arabian Sea.

The remaining aircraft will arrive over the next few days and will include three US Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters, four US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and 12 US Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.

US military helicopters will operate in partnership with the Pakistan military throughout the country’s flood-affected areas.

The 19 aircraft will relieve six US Army helicopters already in Pakistan that will soon return to duty in Afghanistan, the embassy said.

Despite bad weather, the six helicopters have rescued more than 3,089 people and transported more than 322,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies, it said.