US military rescuers wind up relief ops

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu
US military rescuers wind up relief ops

May 20, 2015-

US military personnel, helping the Nepali authorities in relief operations after the devastating April 25 earthquake, will leave the country beginning Thursday after completing their mission.

A total of 300 the US Army personnel, including 136-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart), have been supporting the Nepal Army in the humanitarian support along with search and rescue operations under the auspices of Joint Task Force 505.

Addressing a press conference jointly organised by the Nepal Army and the US Embassy at the Army Headquarters on Wednesday, Chief of Army Staff Gaurav SJB Rana lauded the role of US Army and other friendly countries in the rescue and relief operations.

“The spontaneous support and goodwill from our friendly nations was first of its kind to Nepal. We shall always remember the service provided by the US Army,” Gen Rana said.  

He added that as the country is gradually entering into the rehabilitation and reconstruction which is the third phase of the disaster response, “the support from the US and other countries will be crucial”.

The first batch of US military personnel will leave on Thursday,  with four Osprey aircraft flying out of the country.

The other two UH-1Y ‘Huey’ helicopters and the army personnel from Marine Corps and Air Force will return in a few days. A 20-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart) will, however,  stay for a few weeks more.

Three Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopters and four Marine Corps Osprey aircraft were deployed to the relief effort throughout Nepal. Additionally, four Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, four Air Force C-130 Hercules and two Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules aircraft, as well as various ground and aviation command and control assets, contributed to the effort.

Commander of the US Joint Task Force in Nepal Lt Gen John Wissler said that the US army force is returning back after accomplishing the task assigned to it.

“While our participation in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation comes to an end, our relationship with Nepal is enduring,” said Wissler. “We begin the return to our homes ready to return to Nepal should our two nations deem our support necessary once more,” he added.

However, a UH-1 helicopter crashed in Ghorthali of Sindhupalchok district on May 12, killing six US Marine Corps personnel and two Nepal Army soldiers.

“The joint relief missions conducted by the US and Nepalese militaries brought life-saving aid to those who needed it most and reinforced the United States’ close partnership with Nepal and its people,” US Ambassador to Nepal Peter J Bodde said.

The US Embassy has said that a team of engineers from the Army will arrive in Nepal soon to support in the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.

According to Bodde, the US provided nearly $49 million in humanitarian assistance and equipment to Nepal after the earthquakes, and US aircraft transported 110 tons of relief supplies and operated 52 sorties to rescue quake survivors from remote districts.

Published: 21-05-2015 08:35

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