Thirteen military and three civilian aircraft were being sent to Kathmandu Sunday as part of India’s ongoing relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and its aftershocks in Nepal.
Around 633 Indians stranded in Kathmandu were expected to be evacuated by three flights on Sunday, officials said. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in Nepal in addition to the seven teams sent there on Saturday. Six more NDRF teams would be deployed soon.
The government was also planning to send a six-member inter-ministerial team, headed by an additional secretary with the Ministry of Home Affairs, to Kathmandu to coordinate rescue efforts.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, during a briefing on Sunday evening here along with Home Secretary L C Goyal, Defence Secretary R K Mathur and IMD chief L S Rathore, stressed that relief and rescue operations in Kathmandu were the immediate focus of the government and urged Indians stranded at Kathmandu airport to remain patient.
Jaishankar said the National Crisis Management Committee had been collecting inputs being received from the NDRF and the Army.
“This is happening little by little. The secretaries involved, led by the Cabinet Secretary, met the Prime Minister and senior ministers of the Cabinet in the morning. One of the outcomes was that a senior level inter-ministerial team is being sent to Kathmandu to coordinate efforts,” he said.
“We expect to have 13 military aircraft in Kathmandu today — four C17s, three C 130s, four IL 76s and two AN 32s. Additional civilian aircraft have been sent this morning, two Air India flights and a Jet flight, to bring back Indians stranded there. Of the 13 military aircraft, five have landed in Kathmandu and the others are on their way. There was a break in the morning because of the aftershocks and the airport being closed for some time. By late evening, we hope to have all the aircraft there,” said the Foreign Secretary.
Stressing that rescue and relief response to the situation was the Indian government’s primary aim, he said, “While 540 were brought back yesterday, a flight carrying 237 persons have landed today, one carrying 266 people is on its way, and another is loading 130 persons as we speak.”
Three army field hospitals, an engineering task force, a medical contingent of civilian doctors have also been sent to Kathmandu with two tonnes of medical supplies. Ten tonnes of blankets and tents were lifted on Sunday, along with 50 tonnes of water provided by the Railways and 22 tonnes of food pooled in by states and voluntary organisations, the top foreign official said. “We also hope to get people out by buses,” he said.