Quake: Being one of the few international relief teams that can self-sustain without the need for Nepalese government assistance, Bhutan’s 63-member medical team been has relocated to Trishuli in Nuwakot district, located 34km from the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake, and has begun treating victims.

The team, deployed, following a royal command of His Majesty the King, is now based in one of the worst hit areas of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday.

The medical team had offered to set up relief camps outside Kathmandu, as it is equipped with its own food and water supply, enough to last at least two weeks.  The team is equipped as well with tents, generators, portable medical equipment and other supplies.

The team also has medicine supplies for two weeks.

According to information posted on the Facebook page of the DeSuung, the Nepalese government has expressed appreciation to the team for volunteering to work in Nuwakot, where relief is urgently required, and the team was received “with a great sense of gratitude by the people of the area”.

However, despite the medical team being equipped with satellite phones, it was pointed out that communications with the team has still been “hampered”.

Cabinet secretary Kinzang Wangdi, speaking on national TV yesterday, said that no official communications with the team had been established so far, and that alternative methods had been pursued, like using social media.

Contact persons for information related to the Bhutan4Nepal relief effort, donations, and finding friends and family in Nepal:

In Bhutan:
Kinzang Wangdi, Cabinet Secretary: +975-17500000
(Dr) Phuntsho Namgyel, Director: +975-17100001
Tshering Wangmo, Press Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office: +975-17100002

In Nepal:
Singye Dorji: +975-17100007
Yeshey Wangchuk, Drukair: +975- 17100008

A Bhutan4Nepal Facebook page has also been created

He added that Bhutan Telecom SIM cards with roaming facilities would be sent to the team today.

A multi-agency coordination team, led by the cabinet secretary, will be supporting the medical team in Nepal.

In a meeting held yesterday, the team decided to establish a control room at the Prime Minister’s Office, and identified five persons (see box), as contact persons for information related to the relief efforts.

Kinzang Wangdi said that the contact persons, who include himself, could be contacted for any information related to the relief efforts, including donations and searching for friends or family in Nepal.  He added that unconfirmed reports have been received that there were still Bhutanese stranded in Nepal, and that the government could bring them back, if found.  The director of the SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu, Singye Dorji  and the Kathmandu station manager for Drukair, Yeshey Wangchuk have been collecting information on the situation there.

It has also been determined that the medical team in Nepal will be resupplied with water in the next few days, and that medical supplies will be dispatched on May 7.

Kinzang Wangdi said that it had been found that the water supply in Nepal was scarce, and that around 21,000 litres will be delivered in the next two days.

Subsequent water and medical supplies will be delivered within 10 days of the last supply.

The fund-raising and relief effort has also officially been named Bhutan4Nepal.

Meanwhile, three stranded Bhutanese in Nepal were evacuated to Paro by Tashi Air yesterday.

A total of 228 people, including at least seven foreigners, were evacuated by the two airlines on April 27.

National airline Drukair flew five tonnes and Tashi Air almost three tonnes of relief material into Kathmandu, yesterday.

The two airlines have pledged to continue evacuations and transport of relief supplies.

Bhutan donated Nu 63M (million) or USD 1M to Nepal on April 27.  The donation was personally handed over by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala in Kathmandu.  Lyonchoen had travelled to Kathmandu on a special relief flight that also carried Bhutan’s 63-member medical team.  Lyonchoen was the first foreign leader to visit Nepal following the earthquake.

The death toll from the April 25 earthquake has passed 5,000 and could reach 10,000 according to international media reports.  An estimated half a million people have also been displaced.

By Gyalsten K Dorji


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