SA medical team touches down in quake-hit Nepal

2015-05-01 09:28
(Casey Allred, Effect.org, AP)

(Casey Allred, Effect.org, AP)

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Kathmandu - A specialised South African medical team has touched down in Kathmandu as part of a Gift of the Givers aid mission to earthquake-struck Nepal.

As the projected death toll from the quake rises above 6 000, the team consisting of specialist surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses will on Friday begin procedures at the Kirtipur Hospital on the outskirts of the city.

A South African search and rescue team, also part of the Gift of the Givers mission, landed in Nepal on Wednesday and began operations in earnest.

The charter flight with medical staff from across the country touched down almost a week after the quake struck.

Challenges

Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman said he picked the highest qualified team.

“One of the biggest challenges was to look at how to get into Nepal because the airport was opening and closing because of aftershocks. We could only fly in because getting in overland by train or road was simply not viable and a host of logistics problems to figure out - how to get our supplies and aid into the country.”

He said that with the search and rescue operations in full swing, the goal was to find those still alive.

“Outside the city security has become a concern because people are becoming desperate, they are not bad people they just have horrible circumstances to deal with. We have liaised with South African and Nepalese governments and we now have a 330-bed hospital that we will be working out of and if it is needed, we will be running procedures around the clock,” he said.

“The biggest need there now is tents and we are going to try and market a tent campaign because all the buildings have been levelled and people are out in the cold with monsoon season around the corner. Everywhere you go, shelter is a major problem.”

Sooliman said that the 80-strong team was the largest in the organisation's history, and that more personnel could be called upon if the situation on the ground dictated it.

- News24 is travelling with the Gift of the Givers team.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  imtiaz sooliman  |  nepal  |  nepal earthquake

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