UK experts to aid quake operation

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Published: Sunday 26th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Rescue operations and aid efforts will continue in Nepal today as the country assesses the scale of the death and destruction inflicted by a powerful earthquake.

Nearly 1,400 people were killed after the 7.8 magnitude quake struck just before midday yesterday, sending tremors through the Kathmandu Valley and the nearby city of Pokhara.

The majority of fatalities were reported in Nepal, with deaths also being confirmed in India, Tibet, Bangladesh and the Nepal-China border.

The UK has deployed an eight-strong team to provide urgent humanitarian support for those affected by the disaster.

Experts in search and rescue are travelling to Nepal overnight and will begin work assessing the scale of damage, and helping local authorities to direct the response.

About an hour after the initial quake, a magnitude 6.6 aftershock hit and smaller aftershocks could be felt through the region for hours.

A senior mountaineering guide, Ang Tshering, said an avalanche swept the face of Mount Everest after the earthquake and government officials said at least 30 people were injured.

A spokeswoman for Intrepid – who arrange treks in Nepal and around the Everest region – confirmed that it did have some groups which included Britons in the area was trying to get in touch with the tour groups.

A number of other Britons have also not been heard from since the quake struck.

Several are listed on Google’s Person Finder tool under a section entitled 2015 Nepal Earthquake.

The database includes Sebastian Lovera, a 22-year-old qualified skiing and diving instructor, from Tonbridge, Kent.

His last known location was Khumjung on Tuesday, from where he was heading towards Everest Base Camp.

His stepfather, Greg Smye-Rumsby, said: “Sebastian is an extremely lively and self-motivating person and that is why he went to Napal.

“We haven’t heard from him. He would not have switched his phone off. We have tried ringing it. Sometimes it rings and sometimes we get an answer but it’s an automated answer. It says the phone is switched off.

“He’s certainly not a person to take risks. He’s the absolute opposite.”

Mr Lovera is described as being around 5ft 8ins, with dark blond/light brown hair and very fit.

He has a red Black Diamond down jacket and brown Karrimor walking boots with a hole in the left boot.

Another Briton feared missing is Laura Wood, 23, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

She is described by a friend as a “glowing lovely beautiful young girl often dressed in hippy type clothing”.

Miss Wood has been trekking in the Himalayas without any means of making contact.

Those in the Nepal described the impact of the quake.

Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan International UK, who is on a scheduled visit, said she was on the top floor of a building when it started to “shake violently”.

Sarah Blin, Handicap International’s Programme Director in Nepal, said: ” The earthquake was devastating and the earth trembled again several times in the day.

“Many buildings collapsed, especially outside Kathmandu. The population is in shock. The people rushed outside and moved to evacuation centres. Many will spend the next few nights outside, and are in need of camping equipment, especially the most fragile people.”

“Hospitals are overwhelmed, and are short of staff and medical supplies. With roads blocked and difficult or interrupted communications, the situation is particularly problematic for remote villages.”

Oxfam is also lending its support to the rescue effort with teams in Nepal already assessing the humanitarian need and a team of technical experts preparing to fly from the UK with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food supplies.

Christian Aid has made an initial £50,000 available to help victims and the British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal.

A team of 14 volunteer rescuers from UK charity Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters are set to fly out to Kathmandu today, taking with them 1.5 tonnes of specialist equipment to help them rescue people in collapsed buildings.

Published: Sunday 26th April 2015 by The News Editor

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