As the death toll continues to rise in Nepal following Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, charter flights bringing humanitarian aid are flooding into the stricken country via Kathmandu’s small and overcrowded airport.
The Kahleej Times reported that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, has ordered an air bridge supply to aid the earthquake victims in Nepal, which has so far claimed more than 4,600 lives, injured 9,000and displaced an estimated 8 million people.
The first 747 took off Tuesday morning from Dubai, en route to Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu with the first 90 tonnes of aid. The UAE plans to send in excess of 450 tonnes of aid, including emergency health kits, water purification units, water storage and distribution units, blankets, tents, tarpaulin, jerry cans, buckets, plastic sheets, solar lamps, ICT equipment and food.
Dubai is running the air bridge in coordination with United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and a number of international humanitarian organizations. The work, however, has been slow, according to UN officials quoted by CNN, who said KTM is overwhelmed, with little space available to park the large 747, C-17, An-124 and Il-76 cargo planes. Some have reportedly been diverted temporarily to India until the bottleneck clears.
Shaima Al Zarooni, CEO of International Humanitarian City, is leading the operations of the task force. The government of Nepal requested international assistance, including search and rescue capacity, medical teams, supplies and tenting for hospitals, heavy equipment for rubble removal, and helicopters for transporting the injured and to get access to blocked areas.