Three Chinese military helicopters on Wednesday evacuated 108 people from several areas in Nepal, a day after a fresh 7.5-magnitude earthquake that claimed at least 65 lives and injured over 1,900 people, officials said.
On the request of Nepal, China sent a fleet of helicopters from an army aviation brigade of the Chengdu Military Region of the People’s Liberation Army to Nepal. The fleet, which has been commuting between China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu since May 6, is responsible for delivering relief supplies and evacuating stranded personnel from the Himalayan country’s quake-stricken areas near the border between the two neighbor countries, said Yang Lei, commander of the army aviation brigade.
Prior to Tuesday’s powerful quake, the Chinese helicopter fleet was primarily responsible for relief supplies delivery, while after the quake, evacuating personnel — both victims and aid workers, became another primary task.
Dindu Tamang, 43, a lodge owner in Langtang, a northern Nepalese village close to the border, had been stranded in his village for 14 days after the 7.9-magnitude quake that struck on April 25, until Wednesday afternoon, when he, together with 14 fellow villagers, were airlifted to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
“We have been trapped since the first earthquake and it has been 14 days…We have no any trials to walk down and all because the old village is completely covered with the avalanches and snow storms,” Tamang told Xinhua.
“As our village Langtang is very close to the Chinese border, that’s why we hope the Chinese Government can support our old village Langtang and rebuild it as before. So we really hope the great support from your country because your country is supporting our country since very long…We are so grateful to the Chinese Government, to the people and especially to the pilots and all. Even though the weather is bad, they came and saved our lives,” said Tamang.
Stanley Mayer, an aid worker of the Canadian Red Cross was providing assistance near Kodari, a border crossing from Nepal to China, when the 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck.
“We were attending two patients and were very busy when a large landslide after the earthquake occured. A very large dust storm was very suffocating. So we got all the patients and all people that were around our unit into our tents and closed the window to protect them from the dust. We waited there for a while and there was numbers of aftershocks,” Mayer, evacuated by another Chinese military helicopter, recalled.
“I am not a geologist but it looks like the size of the mountains are very unstable and if there is any other larger aftershock, they could come down and they could take up the whole area over there, so its very precarious,” said Mayer.
Talking about the Chinese military helicopter and its crew that evacuated them to Kathmandu, Mayer said: “They are very professional…We were glad to see them.”
Before his helicopter evacuation, Nima Dorhe Sherpa, an aid worker from a local monastery, had been trapped in a remote area for one night.
“They are really helpful…they were waving their hands towards us and very humble. I felt it and like those things. I feel really great towards Chinese military and Chinese Government. Thank you!” Sherpa told Xinhua.
The Chinese military helicopter fleet’s mission in Nepal continues.
“Since May 6, we’ve had over 100 sorties and delivered a total of over 50 tons of relief supplies to those areas. To ensure the quality of the supplies, instead of airdropping, we’d rather choose to land and deliver, even as local weather was not quite satisfactory,” Yang told Xinhua.