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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Offers Condolences to Earthquake Victims

Aired October 9, 2005 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. "ON THE STORY" will begin shortly, but the president of the United States, George W. Bush, has been spending some time with a high-ranking Pakistani embassy official in Washington. They've been meeting in the Oval Office to deal with this earthquake that erupted over the past 24 hours in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
The president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, has been pleading for international assistance, specifically helicopters, including helicopters from the United States. Earlier on CNN's "LATE EDITION," the prime minister of Pakistan specifically asked for Chinook helicopters from the U.S. military, those heavy lift helicopters.

Here's the president in the oval office.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've very grateful to the Pakistani embassy for coming by to brief me on the tragedy that has taken place in that country. I'm just told that this is going to be the worst natural disaster in the nation's history. Thousands of people have died, thousands are wounded. And the United States of America wants to help.

I spoke to President Musharraf. I expressed my nation's -- our nation's deepest condolences, and I told him that we want to help in any way we can. To that end, we've already started to send cash money and other equipment and goods that's going to be needed to help the people in Pakistan. We're moving eight choppers over. Charge told me that one of the biggest concerns for the government of Pakistan is not enough airlift capacity to get into some of these rural areas where people are suffering. So we're moving choppers.

Secretary Rumsfeld is surveying the assets that he may be able to move in the area. We're working with Pakistan at all levels of government. Pakistan's a friend, and the United States government and the people of the United States will help as best as we possibly can. So appreciate you coming by.

And final, as I told the president, President Musharraf, I said a lot of Americans here will be asking for the almighty God's blessings on the people of Pakistan. Thank you all.

BLITZER: The president of the United States, only moments ago with the charge d'affairs at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, Mohammed Sadiq (ph). The president promising U.S. assistance to Pakistan, a close ally in the war on terror and the aftermath of this earthquake that has killed at least 20,000 people in Pakistan. The president announcing that he's accepted a request from President Musharraf -- he was on the phone with him earlier today -- for eight U.S. military helicopters, heavy lift helicopters, those Chinook helicopters, to go in and try to save lives in the aftermath of this hurricane -- of this earthquake, that is.

The president also expressing America's condolences, and promising additional assistance.

Stay with CNN throughout the day for continuing coverage of this earthquake in South Asia.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. Now we go to "ON THE STORY," already in progress.

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