India on Sunday sent three top military commanders, led by Major General JS Sandhu, to Nepal to coordinate its stepped-up rescue and relief operations as well as evacuation of Indians stranded in the quake-devastated nation .
Two senior army officers and one from the air force will coordinate with Nepalese officials to fast-track tasks assigned to Indian teams working alongside local workers. They will be overseeing the operation along with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief O.P Singh, who is already in Nepal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired a high-level meeting at 3.30pm on Sunday at his 7 Race Course Road residence, went through details of the mission, sifting through inputs on the extent of destruction, relief and rescue operation and plans for evacuation of Indians.
"India will do its best to wipe the tears of every Nepali, hold their hand and stand with them," Modi said in his Mann ki Baat radio address.
New Delhi ramped up its operation, rushing 13 planes, six helicopters, loads of supplies and rescue and medical teams.
The air force flew over 1,000 Indians out of the quake-hit Nepalese capital, flying extended sorties through the day despite fresh aftershocks forcing closure of airports for some hours on Sunday.
The next step is to open land routes to evacuate as many Indians as possible, bringing them over on buses through the border in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar appealed to Indian nationals in Nepal to be patient and announced the plan to bus them out from Kathmandu. Sources said 35 buses have been hired for the purpose.
He said the government has sent 10 tonnes of blankets, 50 tonnes of water and 22 tonnes of food donated by several states and voluntary agencies.
Ten Indian ground teams are working in Nepal, among them an NDRF rescue unit that has participated in Japan after the 2011 tsunami.