Tuesday 28 April 2015

Nepal Earthquake: Singapore sends supplies, personnel

By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 27 Apr 2015

SINGAPORE has sent two planes carrying supplies and personnel to aid earthquake-stricken Nepal.

Last night, two C-130 aircraft, carrying contingents from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), set off for the Himalayan state.

<<Relief Efforts begin for Nepalese Earthquake>> Tonight, two C-130s took off to help in the Nepal Earthquake rescue...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal is struggling in the aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday, leaving thousands dead.

Among the men and women who set off for Nepal was a team of six from the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre. They will help the Nepalese authorities coordinate relief efforts.

Also on board the aircraft was an SCDF search and rescue team.

Another aircraft, with a contingent from the police, including members of its Gurkha unit, and a second batch of SCDF officers, is scheduled to leave this morning.

Gurkhas are trained Nepalese who serve in foreign militaries; Singapore's Gurkha contingent has been active since 1949.

As Singapore's leaders authorised this wave of assistance for Nepal, they took to social media to express their condolences to the Nepalese nation and made special mention of Singapore's Gurkhas.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that the Gurkhas in Singapore must be worried about their families and friends back home. "Our thoughts are with them," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean visited the Gurkhas here yesterday morning.

"We thank the many generations of Gurkhas for your service to Singapore," Mr Teo, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, said on his Facebook page.

Visited our Gurkhas this morning. Briefed on situation in Nepal. Our thoughts are with our officers and families. We...
Posted by Teo Chee Hean on Saturday, April 25, 2015

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen pledged on Facebook that the SAF will do more for Nepal if needed. "Let us help and pray for (the people of Nepal) in this moment of despair and grief," he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) sent a crisis response team to Kathmandu yesterday morning to help Singaporeans looking to leave Nepal. The team is based at Kathmandu International Airport.

The MFA hopes to arrange for Singaporeans to depart Nepal via the C-130 aircraft carrying aid and personnel from Singapore.

It has contacted most of the registered Singaporeans in Nepal, and has not received reports of injured Singaporeans so far, said the ministry.

However, some are still uncontactable, likely due to the local communications network being disrupted, it said.

The earthquake that struck near Nepal's capital of Kathmandu also set off an avalanche on Mount Everest.

Some of them have decided to stay to help other camps that have been badly affected, and he wished them a safe journey.

Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah wrote on her Facebook page: "In our inter-connected world, no one is untouched by tragedies like this. We are a small country, but where we can, we must also do our part."

#NepalQuakeRelief Update: Our hearts go out to the thousands affected by the massive earthquake in Nepal. Our airmen...
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Monday, April 27, 2015

Singaporean and PR evacuees arrive home
By Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 30 Apr 2015

A TOTAL of 89 Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) have been evacuated from quake-stricken Nepal.

The first batch of 74 people landed at Paya Lebar Air Base at around 12.45am yesterday on a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 plane.

A second C-130 carrying 15 passengers landed later yesterday.

<<The Reason the SAF Serves>> It hasn’t been easy for our C-130 pilots and crew getting to and from Kathmandu....
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Most of them were among the more than 200 Singaporeans and PRs in Nepal who had registered with the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Those registered with the MFA and still in Nepal will be flown home on commercial airlines, said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

He spoke to reporters at Paya Lebar Air Base, where he welcomed the first batch of evacuees yesterday morning.

The MFA was trying to contact five Singaporeans who had registered with the ministry, he said.

"We do not know the situation they are in. We hope they are well," said Mr Masagos. "We'll work as hard as we can to (contact the five people) and to get them out of Nepal as soon as possible."

The Straits Times understands that by last night, just two people could not be contacted.

The evacuation plans were delayed when the RSAF planes initially could not land at Kathmandu airport on Tuesday because of congestion. They later landed on the same day.

<<C-130 pilot’s account of mission to Nepal>> Wanted to get a first-hand account of how the mission to and back from Nepal went, so I spoke to MAJ Sean Yang, who flew the first C-130 into Nepal with our relief teams, and ferried stranded Singaporeans home. Sean told me about the challenges they encountered – crowded airfield, and tough landing conditions amid bad weather. When I thanked him, he said "No problem, Sir. We were just doing our job, all of us were." I think this will be an unforgettable episode in his professional career.- Ng Eng Hen#NepalQuakeReliefThe Republic of Singapore Air Force
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Singaporean who returned home yesterday was operations executive Lim Kun Jie, 26, who was in Nepal to trek at Mount Everest.

He felt "strong shakes" after arriving at Kathmandu airport on Saturday, half an hour before the quake took place.

He said it was chaotic at the airport. "A lot of the flights were cancelled, delayed, and we were told that there was too little space in the airport and none of the planes could land."

At Paya Lebar Air Base yesterday, family members and friends of the evacuees waited anxiously and received their loved ones with tears, cheers and hugs.

Madam Emily Chan, 35, an administrative executive, was there to greet her sister Chan Yee Bei, 24, who had gone to Nepal with two friends.

Said Madam Chan: "We couldn't sleep and just kept trying to contact her until we finally heard from her on Sunday. We are very relieved that she is back home safely."

Yesterday, Mr Masagos announced that the Government will donate another $150,000 for relief efforts to the Singapore Red Cross, on top of an earlier $100,000.

The Singapore Red Cross also said last night it had received about $300,000 in cash and cheque donations for its quake relief fund.

Humanitarian aid group Mercy Relief had collected $248,000 as of 5.30pm yesterday. It said it will send a medical mission team to Kathmandu tomorrow.

#NepalEarthquake Thank you for reaching out and offering your help and donations for the Nepal Earthquake. It is much...
Posted by Singapore Red Cross on Monday, April 27, 2015

Red Cross, Mercy Relief appeal for urgent donations
The Straits Times, 27 Apr 2015

SINGAPORE humanitarian organisations are sending relief supplies and emergency assistance to Nepal, and are appealing for urgent donations from the public.

The Himalayan state was rocked by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday that has left more than 2,300 dead.

In a statement yesterday, the Singapore Red Cross said it will send $50,000 worth of relief items and emergency supplies to Nepal.

Mercy Relief, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation, said it will deploy a preliminary disaster response team of two to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. It will ascertain ground needs and procure an initial batch of relief supplies, said the organisation, adding that $60,000 had been dedicated as an "initial tranche" for relief efforts.

Both the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief are appealing for donations. The Government has committed $100,000 to the Red Cross as a seed contribution in its donation drive, the Singapore Red Cross said.

To donate to the Red Cross' efforts, members of the public can go to the Red Cross House at 15, Penang Lane, Singapore 238486, from 9am to 6pm on weekdays.

They can also make cheques out to the Singapore Red Cross Society, indicating the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund and their name, contact number and address on the back. These should be posted to the Red Cross House.

To donate to Mercy Relief's efforts, members of the public can make cheques out to Mercy Relief Limited, with "Nepal Earthquake Relief 2015" written on the reverse. They should be mailed to Block 160, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568, Singapore 310160.

Cash donations will also be accepted at that location, while bank transfers can be made to Mercy Relief's DBS current account 054-900741-2.

The death toll in Nepal climbed as rescuers sifted through the rubble of levelled buildings at the weekend.

Strong aftershocks continue to be felt, said Singapore Red Cross secretary-general Benjamin William.

"Many are living in fear, unable to return to their homes. Damage to roads and the airport means that getting relief and aid to these communities is also going to pose a great logistical challenge," he added.

The Singapore Red Cross is working with the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist those trying to contact their family members in Nepal.

Those looking to contact relatives in affected areas can register at http://familylinks.icrc.org/nepal-earthquake or call the Singapore Red Cross hotline on 6664-0501.

It is official! Mercy Relief deploys to quake-hit Kathmandu to ascertain ground needs and procure initial batch of...
Posted by Mercy Relief on Sunday, April 26, 2015

Singapore teams begin search and rescue ops
SCDF rescuers and SAF medical team helping quake victims
By Lim Yan Liang, In Kathmandu, The Straits Times, 30 Apr 2015

RESCUERS from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will begin search and rescue operations today in Lalitpur district, just south of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

An SCDF team that travelled to the Gorkha region yesterday will also be conducting such operations, and coordinate efforts with their Belgian and Spanish counterparts.

Meanwhile, a medical team from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is helping earthquake victims in the village of Gokarna, after an area that was earlier assigned by the Nepal authorities was found to be covered by teams from three other countries.

At a 50 sq km area in Lalitpur, the 22-strong SCDF team is bringing its full array of search and rescue tools to the operation, including sniffer dogs to locate signs of life.

The team has also asked for an excavator, said SCDF deputy contingent commander, Captain Foo Ying Kai. "Many of the buildings do not have steel rebars (reinforcing bars), so when they collapse they will pancake," he said. "Most of the collapsed buildings are also very brittle, so there is some risk involved."

At the Gorkha region, which is near the epicentre of last Saturday's earthquake, the 20-man SCDF team is being assisted by four members of the Singapore Police Force.

Besides roads damaged by the quake, the team also faces communication challenges due to network outages.

With the 96-hour window where search and rescue efforts are most effective now closed, rescuers are now also looking at extracting dead bodies as well.

"Part of our mission is not just search and rescue of lives, but if we are able to rescue any bodies, we will still do it," said Lieutenant-Colonel Alvin Tan, commander of the SCDF contingent.

"This will at least give the families some closure."

The SAF team, which was initially assigned to relief efforts in the village of Sankhu, found out during reconnaissance that the sector was already being helped by three separate teams: one each from Malaysia, India and China.

"This is something that is very common in a disaster like this, when information is not commonly shared," said overall mission commander, Colonel Lim Kwang Tang.

Gokarna village, where the SAF's medical team is helping local doctors, has a population of about 20,000.

Local doctors have also asked for help and medical supplies for injuries like fractures and broken bones, said Col Lim.

It's been a week since the massive earthquake in Nepal. Even with the international outpouring of aid, there is still a...
Posted by cyberpioneer on Saturday, May 2, 2015

SAF mobile clinic treats hundreds in Nepali town
By Lim Yan Liang, In Gokarna (Nepal), The Straits Times, 2 May 2015

WORD spread quickly in the quake-damaged town of Gokarna, near Kathmandu. Some arrived on foot, others on crutches for treatment at a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) mobile clinic in the compound of the 1,500-year-old Gokarna Mahadev Hindu temple.

Hundreds of people among the town's 20,000 residents have been waiting for medical treatment for injuries suffered during the quake or for illnesses such as diarrhoea. Until Wednesday, the nearest free medical care was 30 minutes away.

The SAF clinic opened on Thursday, treating more than a hundred patients on its first day. By yesterday, it was almost 300.

The 15-member team, consisting of five doctors and 10 medics, is working out of three tents.

Mr Lal Bahadur Bayarkoti, 32, made his way on crutches to the clinic to get treatment for an old ankle injury that worsened when he fell during the quake.

"I was at home when the earthquake happened, and I couldn't run because of my foot," said Mr Bayarkoti, who is unemployed. "I fell down and my leg became more painful."

Major (Dr) Kok Wai Leong, 31, prescribed painkillers while a medic helped to clean and dress the injury.

Mr Tirtha Lal Shrestha, a 38-year-old labourer, lost his balance at a construction site during the quake, fell backwards and injured his wrist. Major (Dr) Zhang Junren, 31, applied a plaster cast around his right forearm and sent the man home to rest.

"We've been told that we are the first foreign medical team down here, and therefore we feel that we can contribute most significantly in this area," said Lieutenant-Colonel (Dr) Adrian Tan, head of the SAF medical team in Nepal.

The doctors also saw a number of cases of diarrhoea and acute asthma. The team has resuscitation equipment and can evacuate anyone who is severely injured.

The Singapore medical team has been a comforting presence for many Nepalese who did not know where to turn for help with minor injuries because the local clinic has been overwhelmed, said Dr Ritu Gartoulla, who teaches public health at the Tribhuvan University's Institute of Medicine and whose own house was badly damaged in the quake. While the university's training hospital is also offering free medical help, it is 30 minutes away from Gokarna.

"I explained to many of my neighbours and friends that this is a good opportunity to get medical help because these are experienced, knowledgeable doctors who have come from far away to help us," he said. "Word has certainly got around, and people are talking about the good things the team has done for them."

SAF Team in Nepal Coming Home Soon.The Singapore team, comprising members from the SAF, SPF, SCDF and MOH, has been...
Posted by The Singapore Army on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Warm welcome for Home Team officers returning from Nepal
By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 11 May 2015

HOME Team officers returned home late Saturday night to a heartfelt welcome after spending two weeks carrying out rescue operations in earthquake-hit Nepal.

Their plane touched down at 11.45pm at Changi Airport, where around 300 family members were waiting.

Our Home Team officers returned home late last night, two weeks after they were first deployed to Nepal to assist in...
Posted by Singapore Civil Defence Force on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Among the police contingent were Nepalese Gurkha officers, who provided valuable help as they spoke the language and were more familiar with the terrain.

"Being from there, they were more familiar with the local terrain and the cultural conditions," said Assistant Commissioner of Police Lian Ghim Hua, who led the police contingent.

"They got feedback from their local connections on roads that were not passable... so we could plan our movements."

The first batch of officers left Singapore on April 26 for Nepal, where they conducted search and rescue operations, assisted in evacuating disaster victims by helicopter and rendered medical aid. More followed about a week later.

One of the two female officers was Staff Sergeant Dan Qiong, a search dog specialist with the SCDF's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

She and her dog were deployed to Lalitpur, where they searched more than 60 buildings and helped to retrieve a body.

"That was the moment that you feel you want to do whatever you can to help the people there," said the 32-year-old.

Present at last Saturday's homecoming was Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Masagos Zulkifli, who welcomed each officer home and thanked them for their hard work in Nepal.

"For Singapore, it was a proud moment to have sent all of you," said Mr Masagos, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

After 2 weeks hard at work with #NepalQuakeRelief efforts, our Singapore team has returned home today. To our SAF team...
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Monday, May 11, 2015

Medical aid team to Nepal returns home
By Lim Yi Han And Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 12 May 2015

A MEDICAL team from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Royal Brunei Armed Forces returned yesterday from earthquake-hit Nepal where it treated about 3,000 injured and sick people.

This was the highest number of patients treated by about 20 medical teams from various countries sent there to date, said Colonel Lim Kwang Tang, overall mission commander and director of the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre (RHCC), which coordinated relief efforts.

He said: "There is a need for a common platform for all of us to share information so that we can better optimise the resources available and to render assistance as fast as possible."

The medical team was based in Gokarna, a village near Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.

The SAF sent 38 servicemen, comprising a medical team and staff of the Changi RHCC. With them were seven MOH doctors and nurses and eight personnel of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

The team came home on a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 plane.

<<Welcome Home!>>Happy to greet our SAF men and women when they landed at Paya Lebar Air Base this afternoon. Their...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Monday, May 11, 2015

After receiving them at Paya Lebar Air Base, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said: "We went there looking for work. We tied up with the Nepalese military and we knew where the needs were and we put ourselves in the area where there were many patients."

One of them, military medical expert Tan Puay Meng, 38, said: "The locals have no means to get to any healthcare facilities. We went to remote areas... which took a two-hour drive to provide medical aid. I can't imagine how they could get down from the mountainous areas to seek help."

The RSAF has operated 11 flights to Nepal since April 26 - a day after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake - transporting people, equipment and supplies.

The SAF and MOH personnel are part of a 182-strong Singapore relief contingent sent to Nepal. Others involved included the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Health Sciences Authority and Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The 126 Home Team officers - its largest deployment for an overseas disaster relief operation - returned home last Saturday.

Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament yesterday that the Singapore Government donated $250,000 through the Singapore Red Cross to help Nepalese people. He also thanked the officers for their hard work, "often times under trying conditions".


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