27 Apr 2015

NZ sending USAR team to Nepal

10:07 pm on 27 April 2015

A specialist Search and Rescue team was leaving for Nepal on Monday night to help search for victims from the devastating earthquake.

Tent cities are springing up in Nepal, as hospitals struggle to cope.

Tent cities are springing up in Nepal, as hospitals struggle to cope. Photo: AFP

Technicians from Auckland, Palmerston North and Canterbury gathered in Auckland on Sunday awaiting the order to travel to Kathmandu.

The Fire Service said the team would leave on a commercial flight for Singapore before connecting on a flight to the Nepalese capital, arriving at midday Monday local time.

The 37-strong team will take a 12-tonne cache of equipment so it can be fully self-sufficient, including for food, water, power and rescue equipment.

Ten search and rescue specialists, two paramedics, a doctor, an engineer, seven logistics personnel and 10 command and IT support staff make up the team.

Fire Service chief executive Paul Baxter said the deployment was set down for two weeks, but that could be extended if needed.

He said it was timely that the team had only last month gained UN accreditation as a heavy-capacity USAR team.

"The significance of this is apparent now: the UN knows that we will arrive in the country with the necessary equipment and expertise to hit the ground running and to help, rather than hamper, rescue efforts. We are now in a position to pull our weight on the international stage," he said.

Teams from India, Pakistan, the United States, China and Israel are already on the ground there.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said more than 180 New Zealanders have now been confirmed safe in Nepal.

It said it had no specific concerns about New Zealanders in Nepal but admitted it may take time to account for all of them.

It said if anyone was worried about relatives in Nepal, they should contact the Ministry.

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