Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Quake Britons flown from monastery

Eight Britons stranded in a monastery in disaster-hit Nepal were rescued this morning a week after the devastating earthquake struck.

A team of humanitarian experts chartered a helicopter to get to the group, who were marooned at a remote mountainside religious retreat in Bihi, near Lho.

The team of emergency staff from the Department for International Development (Dfid) flew the group to Kathmandu where they have boarded planes to start their journey back to the UK.

It came as an RAF C-17 which had brought aid to Nepal also rescued another seven Britons from the country - bringing the toll of people from the UK who have been safely evacuated today to 15.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "The quick thinking and swift action of Dfid's team means eight British nationals are now safe and well and saved from what could have been a life or death situation.

"The Dfid team in Nepal are working tirelessly to help all those affected by the earthquake, and of course that includes the British nationals caught up in this disaster.

"We can be proud of everything the UK is doing to help Nepal, whether it is our Government aid flights, the work of British charities on the ground, or the generous public donations to the DEC Appeal."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Eight British nationals have been rescued. They went straight to Kathmandu they have been taken to the airport and have subsequently departed Nepal."

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years, and at least 14,000 have been injured.

The development came as the latest batch of British aid arrived to help with the massive rescue and humanitarian effort.

Crucial water purification equipment and supplies for shelter have been dispatched to the country, the International Development Secretary has said.

Ms Greening said: "These latest aid flights have delivered much-needed shelter and water treatment equipment into Kathmandu.

"These are vital to stop disease from spreading and to prevent an even bigger health crisis from emerging."

The RAF C-17 and a commercial transport aircraft have delivered supplies including heavy lifting machinery to help cargo move quickly through Kathmandu airport, operated by the World Food Programme.

Ms Greening added: "The arrival of our specialist heavy lifting equipment will allow Kathmandu airport to unload aid cargo much more quickly and speed up the delivery of aid supplies across Nepal."

They also flew in more than 1,900 five-litre water purification jerry-cans for use by Oxfam, and more than 2,500 shelter kits to be distributed by the International Organisation for Migration.

One Briton - dual national Hemchandra Rai, 42, a married father of three who lived in Hong Kong - has been confirmed dead.

While many more families are continuing their agonising wait to hear if their loved ones survived the natural disaster, which triggered avalanches that swept away Everest Base Camp.

Reports that a second Briton was among those killed at Base Camp are still being investigated, and many more are still believed to be unaccounted for.

Britain's ambassador to Nepal, John Rankin, said: "This continues to be a major disaster, and logistics and communications in Nepal remain very difficult. Our priorities remain to provide assistance to British nationals and much needed shelter, medical supplies, water and sanitation for the people of Nepal.

"We understand this is a very difficult time for people back home still waiting for news of their loved ones."

An RAF Chinook helicopter left Britain's Brize Norton airbase around midday yesterday, while two more were being sent out over the weekend.

They will help ferry people and supplies so that humanitarian aid can be taken to those in desperate need in remote and isolated communities.

More than 100 Britons, the youngest aged just four months and the eldest in their 60s, returned home to the UK to emotional scenes in the early hours of Thursday.

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos has warned of the "immense logistical challenges" facing aid workers in many of the most remote villages, some of which have been devastated.


From Belfast Telegraph