France sends 70 tonnes of aid to flood-hit Pakistan

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France on Wednesday sent a plane loaded with 70 tonnes of aid to flood-hit Pakistan as part of a UN-backed international effort to help the country overcome the disaster, the foreign ministry said.

The plane was expected in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday.

The shipment includes 35 tonnes of emergency equipment -- tarpaulin, cisterns, blankets, jerrycans and kitchen utensils -- as well as 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of water-purifying tablets and 200 makeshift shelters.

The same flight also carried five tonnes of anti-cholera equipment for the Medecins du Monde aid group, six tonnes of water-purifying equipment for another medical help group and four tonnes of medicines.

France had already provided an initial one million euros (1.3 million dollars) to Pakistan.

In a letter to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, French President Nicolas Sarkozy had said the country was prepared to use its military aircraft to help transport aid.

Foreign aid has begun flowing to the 20 million victims but thousands remain without food or shelter.

Monsoon rains were weakening Wednesday after three weeks of torrential rains brought devastating floods that have left at least 1,400 people dead. Survivors of the country's worst natural disaster have criticised the government's slow response.

© 2010 AFP

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