Mammoth relief operation on by India on second day in quake-hit Nepal
Indian soldiers arrive with supplies at the Tribhuwan International Airport a day after a massive earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Source: AP photo)
Stepping up relief and rescue operations in quake-hit Nepal, India on Sunday deployed over two dozen aircraft and choppers along with nearly 1000 trained personnel and said the situation in the Himalayan nation was “very, very serious”.
A slew of steps have been taken for speedy evacuation of stranded tourists including goodwill visas to foreigners and mobilising of buses and ambulances to bring them by road. Over 1,000 people have been flown from there since Saturday.
Addressing a press conference in the capital, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that situation may worsen in Nepal as heavy to very heavy rainfall is predicted over the next two days, which will hamper the salvage operations.
An inter-ministerial team, headed by a top Home Ministry official, will leave for Nepal soon to coordinate the rescue and relief efforts. “I underline that rapid rescue and relief is our primary mission in Nepal. Situation in Nepal is very, very serious,” said Jaishankar, who was flanked by Home Secretary L C Goyal, Defence Secretary R K Mathur, chief of National Disaster Management Authority R K Jain and India Meteorological Department head L S Rathore.
The Home Secretary said so far 62 people lost their lives in India due to the earthquake and aftershocks while 259 others were injured. Giving details of the Indian rescued from the quake-ravaged country, Jaishankar said 546 people were brought back on Saturday while 504 have already arrived today and 130 more are expected to land late on Sunday night.
He said while the rescue team were trying to evacuate nationals of other countries, Indians were the obvious priority. India has so far deployed 13 military aircraft, three civilian aircraft of Air India and Jet Airways, six Mi-17 helicopters, two Advanced Light Helicopters while two more Mi-17 choppers are kept in standby.
Ten tonnes of blankets, 50 tonnes of water, 22 tonnes of food items and two tonnes of medicines have been flown to Kathmandu. Three army field hospitals and engineering task force and medical units of civilian doctors have been sent to Nepal.
Jaishankar said on Sunday’s aftershocks have hampered the rescue and relief operations as Kathmandu airport was shut for long hours. However, the airport was later reopened.
Source:: Indian Express