Within hours of a massive 7.9 Richter earthquake hitting central Nepal, India has promptly rallied behind the neighbouring country, home to a large Indian community. Hours after the quake struck, which also impacted swathes of northern India unleashing mayhem and destruction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and assured them of all support and assistance.
Coming through on these assurances, India has sent two IAF planes carrying relief material to Nepal, following which a C-130J Super-Hercules aircraft of the IAF left Hindon airforce base at 3.45 pm for Kathmandu, with an NDRF team onboard.
After dropping the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team, C-130J will perform aerial reconnaissance to check road communication to Pokhara, the resort town which is the epicenter of the quake, and return to Hindon. Additionally, five teams are waiting to depart from Hindon and four more from Bhatinda. The Defence ministry has issued standby orders to the Indian Army and Border Roads Organization as well. The Eeternal affairs ministry has opened a 24-hour Control Room for queries.
These steps were decided at an emergency meeting of the national crisis management committee, headed by the cabinet secretary, convened in the presence of Mr Modi at 3.00 pm on April 25. The prime minister was earlier scheduled to inaugurate the National Intelligence Academy in New Delhi at this time.
The destruction wrought by the twin quakes has been appalling. The death toll is 565 and rising by the minute. UNESCO World Heritage sites – Basantapur Durbar Square, the historic Dharahara tower and Grand Bhimsen tower — have been completely destroyed, with many feared trapped in the rubble. Photographs showing damaged buildings in Kathmandu and nearby towns have flooded the social media and give only an inkling of the extent of the calamity.
AFP reports cite a senior Everest guide who says that the earthquake triggered an avalanche in the Everest base camp area that has led to reported disappearance of several mountaineers. An Indian Army Everest team was in the area, but is said to be safe and has the joined search and rescue mission underway to rescue the trapped mountaineers.
While massive tremors were felt across North and East India, the aftershocks have also reportedly killed 17 in Bihar and West Bengal. Minister in charge of earthquake damage assessment Rajiv Pratap Rudy is in Bihar to gather information to the prime minister from the ground. Five NDRF teams have already been rushed from Patna to north Bihar districts of Supaul, Madhepura, Darbhanga, Madhubani and Sitamarhi.
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