Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

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Nepal to boost search-and-rescue capabilities

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 14, 2013

DownloadKATHMANDU, 11 April 2013 (IRIN) – Experts have long predicted widespread devastation and death should a large earthquake hit Nepal, a country with vulnerable infrastructure and ill-equipped urban search-and-rescue teams. In an effort to prepare for such an event, officials have created a strategy to boost emergency responders’ skills.

Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, the densely populated capital metropolitan area, has a history of major earthquakes every 70 to 80 years. The last big quake was in 1934. And though the country has building codes for each of its 99 municipalities, enforcement is scant.

The National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET), a local NGO, estimates 85 percent of buildings in Kathmandu Valley could collapse in an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 Mw or greater on the moment magnitude scale, claiming 85,000 lives.

Another 15,000 people could be saved, but only if there is an equipped, well-trained urban search and rescue team (USAR) in place, said Ramesh Guragain, NSET’s deputy director.

Training, equipment needed

The country currently has only light teams, which can search at the surface of collapsed structures, and a more limited number of medium teams, which can go into fallen buildings to save trapped persons. Heavy teams carry out the most difficult and complex search-and-rescue operations, using search dogs and other tools. The classifications are set by the UN International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), which provides guidance for the preparation and deployment of search-and-rescue teams internationally.  Read the rest of this entry »

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