No time to lose: Global response to Nepal quake gears up
LONDON (AP) -- There is still time to save lives -- that's why governments and aid agencies Sunday rushed doctors, volunteers and equipment to Nepal without waiting for the dust to settle.
"There are 14 international medical teams on the way and either 14 or 15 international search-and-rescue teams on the way," she said. "They need to get in as soon as possible. They will use military aircraft to get them into Nepal."
"That means supplies could potentially come in overland from India. That is a positive sign," said Ben Pickering, Save the Children's humanitarian adviser in Britain. "The airport opening is a small miracle."
The need is great: UNICEF said Sunday that at least 940,000 children in areas affected by the earthquake are in "urgent need" of humanitarian assistance. UNICEF staff reported dwindling water supplies, power shortages and communications breakdowns.
"Going forward it's about access to the epicenter, and helicopters are the key, but it's not clear whether they can be sourced and whether the high altitude is a problem," he said, adding that Save the Children has emergency kits pre-positioned in three warehouses in Nepal and plans to distribute bedding, buckets and other basic supplies to 2,000 families as quickly as possible.
International Search and Rescue Germany said a team of 52 relief workers including doctors, experts trained in searching for people buried under rubble and several dog squads are flying Sunday. The team will bring a mobile medical treatment center.
They will be supported by numerous governments that have announced plans to send aid worth millions of dollars.
The Israeli military said it is sending a 260-member mission to Nepal to provide immediate search-and-rescue help and medical aid.
European nations deployed as well: France said it would send 11 rescuers on Sunday; Britain announced that an advance team of eight had been sent and that a 5 million pound ($7.6 million) aid package would be available under a rapid response plan; and the Swiss Foreign Ministry said a team of experts including a doctor, a building surveyor and water quality technician had left for Nepal on Sunday.
Francis called for assistance for the survivors during his weekly Sunday blessing. He said he was praying for the victims, the injured and "all those who are suffering from this calamity," and asked that they have the "support and fraternal solidarity" they need.
Gary Francis, leader of the Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters group, said the group is bringing in enough tents, food and water to operate self-sufficiently for 15 days.
"Once we are there we've got the ability to carry out a coordination role or urban search and rescue looking for survivors trapped in collapsed buildings," he said.