ISLAMABAD, Pakistan— The U.S. Army joined efforts Thursday to rescue and provide assistance to some of the 4 million people affected by flooding that continues to cause massive devastation as it spreads across Pakistan.
U.S. helicopters helped evacuate 800 people who had been stranded in the northwest's Swat Valley, and the choppers' crews distributed 66,000 pounds of supplies, according to the U.S. Embassy here.
Although U.S. motivations are widely mistrusted in Pakistan, the initial reaction was positive. "We appreciate any help from the world, including the U.S.," said Arbab Tahir Khan, spokesman for the ruling party in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has been the hardest hit. "The devastation caused by the floods is beyond imagination and the world is responding — but slowly. They should speed up their response."
On Thursday, Pakistan began evacuating 500,000 residents of the southern province of Sindh, where floodwaters are expected to crest in the coming days.
The floods have done the most damage in Pakistan's volatile northwest, but they have been making their way south and east to new areas of Sindh and Punjab provinces. Dozens of villages in Punjab were inundated Thursday, and the overall death toll has risen to at least 1,500.
Pakistan's government has said that it does not have the resources to help all those who lost their homes and their livelihoods in the floods and has asked for outside help.
The United States said Thursday that it would provide $35 million in disaster aid — up from the $10 million that had been previously announced.