Choppers lifeline for remote villages

Choppers lifeline for remote villages

The rotors of a civilian helicopter stationed at this headquarter of the Nepal Army’s Bhairabi Dal battalion have rarely stopped whirring since the the earthquake struck Nepal on April 25.

The helipad situated on an elevated landmass in the Manaslu mountain ranges of the Gandaki zone has been a lifeline for villages which are otherwise accessible only on foot.

“We have evacuated nearly 100 people from remote villages such as Larpak, Lapu, Luitel, Choprak and brought them here,” a captain in the Nepal Army told Deccan Herald, minutes after a helicopter took to the skies to drop relief supplies in villages located in the mountain tops.

The Gorkha District Hospital, a few kilometres from here, has been busy for the past few days treating patients brought in from the remote villages. A seven-member team from the Agra-based 60 Parachute Field Hospital was stationed at the hospital for assisting the local medics attending the increasing number of patients .

“We treated lot of patients with limb fractures, head injuries,” said Sipahi Samrat Koner, of the seven-member team that reached here on April 28.

Volunteers of NGOs from Nepal, India, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland also extended a helping hand in carrying out relief operations in the rugged mountains where the quake killed 410 people. The helipad here has been a link to the outside world for the numerous aid workers who came to this remote region near to the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake.

The Army has a network of helipads in this mountain ranges which provide connectivity to the villagers in case of an emergency. A number of private helicopters also operate from these helipads, mainly to cater to the needs of trekkers who come here from across the world.

“The first 2-3 days after the earthquake we brought in a lot of casualties from the inaccessible villages located on mountain tops. Now, we are busy sending relief material,” the Nepal Army captain said.

Each sortie by a civilian helicopter stationed here brought it six to seven persons, while the Advanced Light Helicopter brought in double that number.“We carried out 14-15 sorties each on Sunday and Monday. A Mi-7 helicopter also landed here, which was quite a feat, given the small size of the helipad,” the Army officer said.

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