NDRF personnel withdraw as locals take charge of operations

NDRF personnel withdraw as locals take charge of operations

India’s disaster response force on Tuesday began withdrawing from quake-hit Nepal as the local authorities took charge of the operations to provide relief to the victims of the earthquake.

As many as 4,500 rescue workers from 34 nations, including 800 from India, had landed here to mount one of the biggest rescue operations as the April 25 quake left more than 7,600 persons dead and more than 16,000 injured.

“The first batch of 198 NDRF personnel have left for India on Tuesday,” Abhay Kumar, Head of the Press and Information Section, Embassy of India in Nepal, told Deccan Herald. Another batch is expected to leave on Wednesday.

The Nepal government had on Sunday asked all the workers involved in rescue efforts to call off their operations and return home as there was little possibility of finding any survivors.  “So far, 11 teams comprising over 500 people have left Nepal. Teams from Canada, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Pakistan, USA, the Netherlands, Poland, India and Turkey have left Nepal,” Jagdish Pokhrel, spokesperson for the Nepalese Army said.

Nepal’s Foreign Ministry said the government has asked countries to remove their ‘first response’ teams as the focus now shifts to relief rather than rescue.  Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appreciated India’s swift response to the tragedy that had hit Nepal when he was away on a foreign tour.

Koirala also stressed on the need to have a separate ministry to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters in the future. Visiting Barpak and other quake-affected areas in the district, Koirala said the rehabilitation of the damaged houses and communities would begin soon after the relief distribution ends.

The first Indian Air Force flight carrying relief material and rescue worker had landed in Kathmandu within six hours of the massive temblor that devastated the Himalayan nation. 

Indian officials said though the National Disaster Response Force had begun withdrawal from Nepal, a team of Army Engineers was present here to assist in the reconstruction efforts.

Koirala, who inspected Chautara area in one of the worst-hit districts Sindhupalchowk on Monday, directed officials to leave “no stone unturned” in efforts to save and rehabilitate the victims.

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