Updated: April 27, 2015 3:12:59 am
With fresh tremors at regular intervals and a location they are not familiar, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel sent by India to assist Nepal have their work cut out for them.
So far, NDRF teams have rescued eight people and pulled out 33 bodies from the rubble. An officer who has been monitoring the operations from NDRF’s Delhi control room, from the moment the first team landed in Kathmandu at 5.48 pm on Saturday, said they are seeking help from local guides.
Commandant Alok Awasthy of the 5 NDRF battalion, who was awaiting orders to fly to Nepal, said the focus was on identifying buildings where people could be trapped, and then assessing the strength of these structures. “Our own safety is our priority,” he said. “While there are a few experts who assisted following the 2011 Japan tsunami, this is the first big earthquake operation we are undertaking. We are all trained, we are all experts, but every tragedy is new,” he added.
Schools and offices had not been listed as priority buildings because tragedy struck on Saturday, an off day.
Explaining the way they work, Awasthy said, “Once priority structures are listed, the strength of each building is assessed. Before going inside, we carry out a process called shoring, or stabilising the building. Logs and locally available materials are used to support weaker structures. This is to ensure that if there are aftershocks, logs can support the structure. Moreover, when they fall, they make a noise, alerting teams deployed outside. Each team is also carrying a deployable antenna and a satellite phone to ensure that they can contact the control teams if they are trapped due to fresh tremors. As is our training, the safety of the saviour is of utmost importance.”
The NDRF, formed in 2005, has 10 battalions across India and a total of 120 teams, each comprising 45 personnel. Presently, 10 such teams have been sent to Nepal, but following fresh tremors on Sunday, India suspended rescue operations till 4 pm. A team of four NDRF members with two Netra unmanned aerial vehicles was ready to fly to Kathmandu Sunday evening.
Awasthy said the NDRF is not likely to visit the Everest base camp since their priority is to reach the worst affected areas with the highest population density.
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