SA rescue team to deploy to remote Nepali village

2015-05-02 10:08
Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman in Kathmandu. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman in Kathmandu. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Kathmandu - A specialised South African search and rescue team is set to deploy to a remote Nepali village yet to receive aid from the outside world after last week's earthquake.

The team, made up of urban search and rescue technicians and paramedics, will make the arduous journey by bus to the outlying Sindhupalchauk region, which was near the epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck last Saturday.

Rescue section leader Nico Louw, of Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, said on Saturday that the mission was fraught with challenges. It would take at least four hours to get there, depending on the state of the roads. They would be there for two days.

"One of the greatest challenges we face on this operation is the unknown. We don't know much about the village we are deploying to, only that they were badly hit by the quake and almost a week later have not been reached with aid," he said.

"This is an area that has received no help at all. What is important is to not travel all this way to people who have received help and then don't need what we have to offer.

"This mission will be twofold. The first facet of which is gaining access the village and tapping the knowledge of the locals to find out if they know of anyone still buried under the rubble that we can go and search for. We will ask if they have heard any noises coming from the voids and then localise our searches in those locations. Because we are so late into the disaster now we will only excavate where saving a life could be viable," he said.

"The second facet is treating any villagers who may require urgent medical care, and that is why we are taking a large amount of medical equipment with us."

He said the team was lean and would use high-tech equipment to search for buried villagers.

"Getting an entire team with all their kit is another challenge that we face."

South African doctors, part of the Gift of the Givers humanitarian mission, were deployed to four hospitals around Kathmandu to start urgently-needed operations on those injured when structures collapsed during the earthquake.

- Jeff Wicks is in Nepal courtesy of Gift of the Givers.

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