India rushes 13 military aircraft with aid to quake-hit Nepal

india mapIndia on Sunday dispatched 13 military aircraft to Nepal loaded with tonnes of food, blankets and other aid, stepping up relief efforts to its earthquake-devastated neighbour.

Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar said the transport planes were carrying disaster management experts along with medical supplies and other relief material desperately needed in the wake of Saturday’s deadly quake.

“We expect to have 13 military aircraft going to Kathmandu…. Five of these have landed while the others are on their way. By late evening (Sunday) we expect all 13 to land,” Jaishankar told a briefing in New Delhi.

India’s assistance is part of a massive aid effort that has started pouring into Nepal following the quake that has claimed more than 2,500 lives.

Nepal shares close cultural ties with its giant neighbour India which was also hit by the quake, killing close to 70 people there.

The planes are carrying three army field hospitals along with two tonnes of medical supplies and 10 tonnes of blankets and tents, Jaishankar said.

India has separately pressed civilian aircraft into service to evacuate stranded nationals, many of whom have been camping at Kathmandu’s airport since Saturday.

Jaishankar said the government was still trying to determine how many Indians needed to be evacuated from Nepal.

Earlier Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the first priority was helping Nepal to rescue those still trapped.

“Even now many people buried under the rubble must be alive,” Modi said during his monthly radio programme. “Our effort will be to rescue as many people alive as possible.”

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