Updated: April 26, 2015 8:31:13 am
Drawing from experience gained during the recent mass evacuation from war-torn Yemen and the rescue operations during floods in J&K last year, India needed just a few hours to respond to the SOS from Nepal on Saturday with aircraft and relief personnel.
Soon after the earthquake struck, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on the phone with President Ram Baran Yadav – Nepal PM Sushil Koirala was travelling.
Then, in a swift operation steered by an inter-ministerial group, four IAF transport aircraft carrying about 10 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams, totalling 450 personnel, reached Nepal by Saturday evening.
By around 10.30 pm, the first batch of 55 Indians from Nepal was brought back in one of those aircraft. A Defence Ministry official said 102 more Indians were evacuated by midnight.
“We have never operated in Nepal earlier. But the experience gained during flood operations in J&K has taught us lessons that can be implemented in Nepal. But this is the operation of the Nepalese government and further course of action will be decided after we land there,” Sandeep Rathore, Inspector General of NDRF told The Indian Express.
The first NDRF team reached Nepal in the afternoon on a C-130J aircraft with three tonnes of relief material and equipment. Two C-17 Globemaster aircraft — one with a mobile hospital – and another with three more NDRF teams left New Delhi later in the evening. A fourth aircraft left from Bhatinda airbase.
The Army, too, has kept two field hospitals and two columns of engineers on standby, and appointed Maj Gen J S Sandhu as the task force commander.
The “military platforms” were pressed into action after the green signal was issued following a high-level meeting chaired by PM Modi with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior officials.
According to officials, the first C-130J aircraft that reached Kathmandu carried out a recce and damage assessment. In the next phase, two Advanced Light Helicopters and three Mi-17 choppers will engage in providing on-ground assistance like they did during the J&K floods, including local rescues, and distribution of food, medical supplies and blankets.
“Two Mi-17 helicopters have taken off for Nepal from Gorakhpur,” tweeted Defence Ministry s spokesperson Sitanshu Kar. Later, he said they had to return due to bad weather.
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