217 earthquake victims treated as of yesterday
Nepal Quake: Bhutan’s medical team based in Nepal has treated 217 earthquake victims as of yesterday, according to the Bhutan4Nepal control room.
On Tuesday, 86 earthquake victims were treated with nine receiving surgeries. Yesterday, the team treated 131 victims, with some of them receiving minor surgeries, according to the media focal person for the Bhutan4Nepal control room, Tshering Wangmo.
The team is currently based in Trishuli, Nuwakot district, 44km from the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake.
An official channel of communications between the team and the Bhutan4Nepal control room here in Thimphu was established yesterday. The team was provided with five Nepalese SIM cards and three Bhutan Telecom SIM cards with data roaming capability. Two more Bhutan Telecom data roaming SIM cards were also delivered to two contact persons in Kathmandu. (See box for contact numbers).
It was also pointed out by the Bhutan4Nepal media focal person that officials of WHO and the Red Cross visited the camp yesterday and were satisfied and even “impressed” with the facilities available.
“Our doctors worked late into the night and resumed work at the crack of dawn today,” it was posted on the Facebook page of the DeSuung, which was in contact with the medical team via satellite phones.
The Nepalese army is now transporting earthquake victims from the epicentre to the Bhutan camp rather than airlifting them to Kathmandu, it was added. “Helicopters have been bringing victims from around the region for treatment to the camp every 20 minutes.”
Most of the victims have required orthopaedic treatment and surgeries have been scheduled until tomorrow.
It was also pointed out that residents of Trishuli have been bringing food and water for the Bhutanese team.
A private initiative to raise money for Nepal by the executive director of the Bhutan Media Foundation, Dawa Penjor, had raised almost Nu 180,000 as of yesterday.
The Bhutan4Nepal media focal person also pointed out that in response to suggestions from the public it will now begin accepting water donations. The Bhutan4Nepal control room has already identified a warehouse and has asked those interested in donating water to visit its Facebook page today for further information.
The relief team in Nepal is expected to be supplied with at least 21,000 litres of water in the next two to three days.
Some schools in Bhutan have also been raising funds and collecting relief material to donate to Nepal.
The DeSuung office is currently calling for DeSuups interested in going to Nepal for the relief operation to register. Those registered will remain on stand by incase DeSuup members in Nepal have to be rotated or its numbers increased.
Airlines contribute free transport
The chief executive officers of both Drukair and Tashi Air yesterday told Kuensel that all evacuations and transport of relief material between Bhutan and Nepal are being done free of charge.
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A Tashi Air flight flew in 2.9 tonnes of relief material, including 200 boxes of jackets and other clothing material yesterday. It brought back 13 Bhutanese passengers. Two of whom were stranded Bhutanese, according to the commercial manager of Tashi Air, Ugyen Tenzin.
The Drukair flight to Kathmandu was cancelled as there were no passengers.
“We want to extend whatever support, even charter flights to ship any rescue materials to Kathmandu,” said Tashi Air CEO Phala Dorji.
Bhutan’s 63-member medical team was deployed to Nepal upon the command of His Majesty the King.
Bhutan has also donated USD 1M for rehabilitation efforts. The donation was personally handed over by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to the Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on April 27 in Kathmandu. Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay had travelled to Kathmandu on the same relief flight that carried Bhutan’s medical team and medical supplies.
The medical team was deployed to Trishuli as it is one of the few international relief teams that can self-sustain. It is equipped with food supplies enough to last it at least two weeks. It is also equipped with tents, 12 tonnes of medicines, portable medical equipment, and relief materials, including clothes and blankets from His Majesty the King.
The foreign ministry has advised Bhutanese not to travel to Nepal given the current situation.
As of yesterday, the death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake stood at more than 5,000, with about 10,000 injured, and almost half a million displaced.
By Gyalsten K Dorji