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Amid appeals for help, India and Pakistan plan aid camps

By Associated Press
Published October 23, 2005

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - In another sign of growing cooperation between South Asia's nuclear rivals, India and Pakistan on Saturday proposed setting up aid camps along their disputed border in Kashmir, allowing earthquake victims to cross the frontier for medical treatment.

India suggested setting up three camps in the quake-hit zone of Kashmir that would provide food, drinking water and tents to Pakistani victims.

Pakistan made its own proposal hours later, suggesting five points along the disputed border for setting up aid camps and saying those visiting its portion of Kashmir would be allowed through immediately if they had proper travel documents, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Islamabad had reacted cautiously to New Dehli's announcement, saying the two sides would have to meet to discuss the proposal, which followed calls from Pakistan's president to open up the heavily militarized frontier for Kashmiris seeking relief.

Meanwhile, a U.S.-based human rights group accused Pakistani officials of storing tents and other relief supplies instead of immediately distributing them to survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake.

The allegations came as the United Nations appealed for nations to give more aid, warning of another wave of deaths unless relief arrives for the more than 3-million people left homeless by the quake before the harsh winter.

World Bank spokesman Derek Warren said Saturday that the bank has decided to allocate a further $20-million in aid to Pakistan, raising its total commitment to $40-million.

Also Saturday, the U.S. Army sent its only mobile field hospital to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, where it would set up a 44-bed facility.

About 79,000 people are believed to have been killed in the quake, mostly in northwestern Pakistan and its portion of Kashmir. In another setback, a U.N.-chartered helicopter on a relief mission to Pakistan crashed in Azerbaijan on Saturday, killing at least four crew members.

[Last modified October 23, 2005, 01:21:14]

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