Nepal quake: Gurkhas in British army return home to help

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2015 21:16 IST

A Royal Air Force C-17 flight carrying UK aid stocks to Nepal, including more than 1,100 shelter kits and over 1,700 solar lanterns, along with a team of Gurkha engineers, is due to arrive in Kathmandu, official sources in London said.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said: “We’ve got a British Army Gurkha team that was on Everest that is continuing to trek down the mountain and identifying and reporting British nationals on the way as they go. We’ve also got Gurkhas from the Gurkha Training Base in Nepal who are assisting the local authorities. We have a C-17 (aircraft) loaded with British Army Gurkha Engineers and equipment in the region”.

The British army recruits in Nepal, following a long history of association with the Gurkhas going back to the days of the East India Company. The Brigade of Gurkhas includes several units such as the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

The sources said that the shelter kits sent to Nepal consist of plastic sheeting, rope and rope tensioners which will each keep a family of five sheltered from wet weather. The solar lanterns provide lighting and a means of charging phones, radios and torches.

International development secretary Justice Greening has announced that the UK Government will match the first £5 million of public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee Earthquake Appeal.

Greening said: “In Nepal, vulnerable people are sleeping out in the open, their homes destroyed. An RAF C-17 loaded with humanitarian supplies, vital shelter kits, and Gurkha engineers is being deployed, to help thousands of people affected by the disaster”.

She added: “Here in the UK, I know many people will have watched their television screens with horror, and want to help. By committing to match pound-for-pound public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee Earthquake Appeal, we will make sure the public’s generosity has an even bigger impact on the ground”.

Britain’s aid package so far is worth £5 million, including £3 million released under the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) so partners can address immediate needs on the ground and £2 million for the British Red Cross.

It also includes the deployment of eight disaster response specialists from the UK, as well as a team of search and rescue responders and medical experts, the sources said.

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