S'pore sends supplies, personnel

S'pore sends supplies, personnel

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.

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.

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.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said on his Facebook page that he was glad the Singaporeans attempting to scale Mount Everest are safe.

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."

asyiqins@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 27, 2015.
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