Sweden sends aid to Pakistan

Sweden is to send a cargo plane of aid to Pakistan in response to President Pervez Musharraf's appeal for international assistance following Saturday's devastating earthquake.

The Swedish Rescue Services Agency has arranged for 3,000 blankets, 75 family tents and 240 20-man military tents to be taken to Pakistan on a Russian Ilyusyin cargo plane.

Officials are expecting the plane to arrive at Gothenburg’s Landvetter at 6pm on Monday. It is due to set off for Pakistan at around 10pm and will land in Islamabad on Tueday morning. The contribution is being funded by Sida, the Swedish International Development Agency.

A nurse, two Rescue Services Agency staff and a volunteer from the Swedish Lions charity are also being sent to the region.

Over 30,000 people are feared dead following the earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter Scale and is thought to have been the worst in the region in over 100 years.

The Swedish military is sending priests and crisis support officials to help the five Swedish UN observers who are in the area with their families. They are due to arrive later on Monday.

“We will bring home anyone who wants to be brought home,” said General Lieutenent Jan Jonsson, who is leading the operation.

Jonsson told Dagens Nyheter that those who prefer to stay will be given economic support.

“We will make sure that the people we’re sending have cash with them so our staff can get tickets home or can have money to live on. We’re also looking after the relatives in Sweden,” he said.

16 Swedes are currently staying with the embassy counsel in Islamabad, but a woman and her three small children are missing.