A team of officers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) posted in Maharashtra is on standby, ready to travel to Nepal and assist in the massive search and rescue operations under way there to find survivors in the debris left behind by the massive earthquake on Saturday.
“Ten teams of the NDRF have already been deployed from our bases in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab, which are closest to Nepal,” said Alok Avasthy, Commandant, 5th Battalion NDRF, based in Pune.
He added that NDRF Director General O P Singh was in Nepal to assess the situation. “If he feels that more personnel are required, we will be airlifted straight from Pune to Nepal. All our equipment is packed and we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice,” he said.
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NDRF is the country’s only skilled disaster relief force and its personnel are trained to tackle a variety of natural and man-made disasters.
According to Avasthy, the nature and length of the search and rescue operation would depend a great deal on the construction quality of collapsed buildings and the access of rescue machinery to the sites.
“If quality of construction is poor, it will make the job tougher. Also, it is not advisable to use heavy machinery in the initial days of the operation when there is maximum chance of rescuing people alive. We been told that lanes in Kathmandu are narrow, so that could make it difficult to bring in cranes and other equipment to lift debris of collapsed buildings,” he said.