Aid for Pakistan Arrives From Around the World

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan -- Supplies from about 30 countries poured in for Pakistan's quake victims Wednesday as the UN warned of measles outbreaks among the millions of homeless and hopes dimmed for finding more survivors under the rubble. The death toll was believed to be more than 35,000.

The 7.6-magnitude quake on Saturday demolished whole communities, mostly in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, and many areas remained without aid four days later. The United Nations estimated some 4 million people were affected, including 2 million who lost homes.

In clear morning skies, U.S., Pakistani, German and Afghan helicopters resumed aid flights suspended during stormy weather Tuesday. They brought food, medicine and other supplies to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan's portion of divided Kashmir, and ferried out the badly injured to hospitals. Some 50,000 Pakistani troops joined the relief effort.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said small aircraft were able to land at the airport in Muzaffarabad, but C-130 transport planes were still only able to airdrop equipment and supplies.

On a regional tour, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Islamabad and was expected to discuss quake relief with Aziz and Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf. She predicted more U.S. earthquake aid for Pakistan beyond an initial $50 million but gave no specific figures or timeline.

Residents in Muzaffarabad were desperate, mobbing trucks with food and water and grabbing whatever they could. The weak were pushed aside.

Almost exactly four days after the quake, rescuers pulled a 5-year-old girl from the rubble of her home in the city at on Wednesday morning. "I want to drink," Zarabe Shah whispered.

Her cropped hair was caked in dust. A day earlier, her neighbors had recovered the bodies of her father and two of her sisters, but her mother and another two sisters survived.

Jan Vandemoortele, UN Resident Coordinator for Pakistan, said key roads into the quake zone that were blocked earlier have now been opened up.

About 30 countries -- including the United States, France, Japan, Jordan, China, Russia, Iran, Germany, Syria, Turkey and Spain -- have sent relief equipment, doctors, paramedics, tents, blankets, medicine, disaster relief teams. Many also have pledged financial assistance.

"Relief material is moving in," Vandemoortele said in Islamabad. "It is getting there. Roads are open now. They were blocked until very recently. We have several trucks that are all loaded and on the road now."

A transport plane bringing tents, medicine and other supplies from archrival India -- also affected by the quake, but less severely than Pakistan -- arrived at the airbase, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. Pakistan's acceptance of the aid reflects warming relations between the nuclear-armed rivals, which embarked on a peace process last year.

More than 1,400 people have died in India's part of Kashmir.

The Pakistani government's official death toll was about 23,000 people and 47,000 injured, but a senior army official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people had died.

Rescue workers fanned out by helicopter to remote regions of Kashmir. Among them were eight teams from British International Rescue Corps, which found 16 survivors since arriving in the quake zone nearly three days ago.

"As time goes on, hope will get less and less. But you always do get miracles," said Ray Gray, a stocky man in a blue uniform and helmet. "Even if we just find one person, the whole effort is worth it."

Vandemoortele said there have been no reports of epidemics yet but that the area's health infrastructure has collapsed.

"We have to resuscitate the entire health system," he said, adding that three field hospitals had already been set up in Muzaffarabad and Bagh in Kashmir, and another in the northern town of Mansehra. Three more would be ready soon, he said.

In one clinic alone, 2,000 patients have been treated, 400 of them children, most of them suffering from broken arms or legs.

The quake has damaged sanitation systems, destroyed hospitals and left many victims without access to clean drinking water, making them more vulnerable to disease.

"Measles could potentially become a serious problem," said Fadela Chaib, a WHO spokeswoman in Geneva. "We fear that if people huddle closely together in temporary shelters and crowded conditions, more measles cases could occur."

Measles -- potentially deadly for children -- are already endemic in the region and only 60 percent of the children are protected. At least 90 percent coverage is needed to prevent an epidemic, WHO said. The agency will soon start gathering essential vaccines for a mass immunization program.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said within the next couple of days there likely would be 25 to 30 U.S. military helicopters sent to Pakistan from Afghanistan, Bahrain and other countries.