KATHMANDU – Nepal has decided to send foreign search and rescue teams back as the government is capable of handling the search and rescue operation on its own.
Although the government is yet to make a formal decision on it, the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC) headed by the Home Minister has recommended the government to send back the foreign rescue teams, said officials at the Home Ministry.
The Council of Ministers is expected to make a formal decision Monday.
“It is normal practice everywhere in the world that foreign search and rescue teams cannot live more than week and the CNDRC has decided to recommend the government to humbly send the foreign rescuers back as the government itself is capable of handling the situation.
“We valued highly the assistance our foreign friends provided during the search and rescue operation over the last one week but Nepal itself can handle the situation now,” said Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, a spokesman at the Home Ministry.
Around 4,050 volunteers with 129 sniffing dogs from 34 countries including Malaysia are currently assisting Nepal in the search and rescue operations after the massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit Nepal on April 25 killing over 7240 people.
According to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) under the home ministry, so far, 7,250 bodies have been recovered, while 14,266 were injured in the quake.
Officials expect more casualties as all dead bodies have not yet been recovered from the rubbles especially in the rural areas.
Some villages in Gorkha and Sindhupalchock have been totally flattened by the earthquake, in which thousands are suspected to have still been buried under rubble.
Although foreign search and rescue teams will be sent back, Nepal, however, continues to seek more assistance from the international community for relief and reconstruction.
“We welcome relief material from the international community and foreign friends, which will be distributed to the needy people by the Nepal government itself,” Dhakal said.
It, however, does not apply to the medical teams as limited foreign health workers will be allowed to assist the government in providing health services to the earthquake victims, he said.
Currently, over 700 health workers from 34 countries are providing health services to the earthquake victims.
Meanwhile, life is slowly returning to normalcy as people have started going to work. About 25 per cent of the shops opened on Sunday.
But people are still frightened as aftershocks continue to jolt Kathmandu and its vicinity. Eight minor tremors were felt in Kathmandu and around Sunday.
However, seismologists take it as a normal phenomenon.
Geologist Dr Taranidhi Bhattarai said aftershocks may continue for a month and people should not panic as no major quake is likely to hit in the near future. – BERNAMA