MOURNING LOSS OF LIFE CAUSED BY EARTHQUAKE THAT OCCURRED ON OCTOBER 8, 2005, IN PAKISTAN AND INDIA -- (Extensions of Remarks - October 20, 2005)
* Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Speaker, I regret that I was not able to be here to vote on this important measure. Sadly, I was attending the funeral of one of my constituents, a young Marine named Sergio Escobar, who died October 7 while serving our Nation in Iraq. But I want to take this opportunity to join my colleagues in expressing my condolences to all of those who have been affected by the massive earthquake that struck Southeast Asia on October 8, 2005.
* The effects of this 7.6 magnitude earthquake have been devastating. At least 38,000 lives have been lost, with the death toll continuing to rise. Nearly 3 million people have been left homeless and are living in tents or on open ground in freezing temperatures. In some areas, entire villages have been buried in rubble. The Pakistani government estimates $5 billion in damages to its infrastructure.
* The areas worst hit by the earthquake, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the NorthWest Frontier province, are in remote, mountainous regions. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the terrain presents a logistical challenge unprecedented for any humanitarian operation. There is an urgent need for additional helicopters to deliver supplies and evacuate victims. Meanwhile, thousands of people are awaiting rescue, food, and medical attention.
* The United States has rushed food and medical supplies to the region, and has committed $50 million in initial aid for the relief and reconstruction effort. Nations around the globe have sent rescue workers, search and rescue dogs, tents, and equipment. Private aid organizations are also dispatching volunteers and assistance. Together, I know that we can make a difference and help people rebuild their lives.
* Tragedies such as this earthquake and last year's horrific tsunami remind us that we must help one another--both before tragedies strike and also once rebuilding has begun. Nations were very generous in offering help for victims of Hurricane Katrina and I pledge to work with thy colleagues in Congress to ensure that our friends in India and Pakistan have what they need to recover from this tragic event.
* My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families.