An IDF Home Front Command search and rescue team and a fully equipped field hospital, scheduled to take off for Nepal on Sunday night, may end up commencing their journey on Monday instead, army officials have said.
The flights experienced a 12-hour delay due to problems with the landing runway at Kathmandu. The IDF held assessments regarding the type of planes that it could send.
Col. Yoram Laredo, commander of the Home Front Command’s conscripted battalions, is heading the Israeli assistance team, and said some 260 personnel will board an air force cargo plane and an El Al Boeing 737 for the 12-hour journey to the earthquake- stricken country.
“We are in the advanced stages of preparations,” Laredo said.
The colonel said the first priority upon arrival for the team will be in locating and rescuing earthquake victims trapped in the rubble. “The second goal will be to open a field hospital to assist the injured. Thirdly, we will make contact with Israelis who are cut off [from the outside world due to the disaster].”
Three large search and rescue teams will divide up into smaller crews and scour ruins to search for survivors. A command and control team will oversee the entire effort, and link up to local authorities.
The planes are carrying some 95 tons of equipment, including the various components of a field hospital, which will have a ward for premature babies, a labor ward, x-ray machines, and a hospitalization area, as well as lab and surgery zones.
Rescuers are bringing with them cutting equipment, electronic devices to help find trapped victims, generators, lighting equipment and more.
“As time passes, the focus will move from search and rescue to hospital treatment. The hospital can treat 200 patients a day,” Laredo said. “We can link up with local heavy engineering vehicles.”
Three IDF Oketz K-9 dogs and their handlers also boarded one of the planes to Nepal.
Many members of the delegation have taken part in past Israeli assistance teams to natural disaster zones in Haiti and the Philippines.
On Saturday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot held an evaluation with senior military officials, before concluding that the army will send a rescue delegation to Nepal on Saturday night. The delegation has the mission of examining the scope of assistance needed in Nepal following the powerful earthquake that rocked the country.
On Saturday evening, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he ordered the Home Front Command to prepare a rescue team to head out to Nepal.
“The IDF will act in Nepal to assist this country, which is in big distress in light of the deadly earthquake that struck it,” he said.
“It will also, of course, assist full assistance to Israelis who are in the area and in need of help. As we have acted in the past, we willingly share the large experience of the IDF and Home Front Command to help Nepal, through search and rescue and medical personnel, and medical equipment,” the defense minister added.
“This is a humanitarian mission that is most important from our perspective, and we cannot stand on the sideline in light of such a big tragedy that Nepal and its citizens have suffered in the past 24 hours,” Ya’alon added. “This is our moral obligation. I hope that the Home Front Command personnel provide Nepalese residents with the assistance that will help their people and enable them to cope with the tragedy that befell them.”