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US Senator Tours Pakistan Quake Zone


U.S. Senator John Kerry visited Pakistan's hard hit quake zone Saturday. The former Democratic presidential candidate toured a sprawling tent village in northern Pakistan, distributing new school uniforms for children and meeting with local leaders.

Dozens of children lined up Saturday, as Senator Kerry handed out new school uniforms.

The senator spent the afternoon touring the massive tent village in Meira, Pakistan, which houses some 18,000 earthquake survivors.

Last October's 7.6 magnitude quake killed an estimated 80,000 people, and left up to three-million others homeless.

The senator's visit comes as weather forecasters predict more snow and cold weather for the high altitude quake zone.

International relief organizations say they are working around the clock to deliver as many winterized tents as possible before the next storm hits.

Speaking in front of the Meira camp Saturday, Mr. Kerry applauded the global response to Pakistan's relief effort. "I'm really impressed (with) the cooperative effort of countries from around the world, all of whom are sharing in the pain, the dislocation and the agony of what has happened here," he said.

Also joining Senator Kerry for the camp tour was U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker.

Local leaders from the Himalayan quake zone asked both men to help make sure international support remains strong, even after winter passes.

Ambassador Crocker reiterated America's commitment to Pakistan's long term recovery. "We will work through the winter, and will be Pakistan's partner in reconstruction, not just rebuilding, but building better for people who deserve it," he said.

The United States has pledged more than half-a-billion-dollars for Pakistan's relief and reconstruction. U.S. military helicopters, many pulled from combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan, are also supporting Pakistan's emergency programs.

Senator Kerry, who ran against President Bush in the 2004 presidential election, is midway through a 12-day international tour. He is scheduled to visit Afghanistan later this week.