Nepal asks foreign rescue workers to return home

Kathmandu: Nepal government today asked hundreds of foreign rescue workers to leave the quake-hit country as immediate relief has already been provided and the remaining tasks will be carried out by its army and police.

The major rescue work in Kathmandu and surrounding areas is over and the remaining operations can be handled by local workers, Information Minister Minendra Rijal said. However, there was work remaining in the villages and remote mountainous areas that could be carried out by foreign aid volunteers along with local police and army, he said.

The Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee - headed by Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister - had asked the government to bid adieu to the foreign rescue teams yesterday, eight days after the deadly earthquake hit the Himalayan nation.

Around 4,500 people from around 34 nations, including National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from India, came to Nepal after the April 25 earthquake to carry out the rescue work and pull people out of the debris. Most of the rescue teams were carrying out operations in the worst affected districts of the Kathmandu Valley, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha districts. "Its more than eight days after the earthquake.

The rescue teams have served their purpose and we are very thankful to them. "The Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee has recommended the government to thank these teams for the work they have done for Nepal so that they can exit the country. It is up to the government to take a call now," home ministry official Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.

"According to the guidelines of International Search and Rescue Group (INSRAG) guidelines, the search and rescue teams have to be carried out for 7 days, when the survival chances are highest. The remaining search and rescue work will now be carried out by the Nepalese army and police," he added.

However, all the relief and medical teams are still in Nepal carrying out their operations. The medical teams are expected to be in the country for some more time.

"The Health ministry will allow only a few teams of health workers to work in the country on the basis of their expertise. Others will be asked to return home. "Relief teams are working in different teams, but topography and terrain of the nation is still acting as a major impediment in reaching out to the people. But foreign rescue team, the Indian and the American air forces are helping in reaching out to them," Dhakal added.

More than 7,200 people, including 54 foreigners have lost their lives in the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

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