Indian Air Force planes fetch 546 people back from Kathmandu

New Delhi, April 26: Indian Air Force planes have fetched around 546 of its citizens, including several infants, back from quake-hit Kathmandu since late Saturday with more sorties firmed up during Sunday, officials here said.

The first Indian Air Force plan to arrive from the Nepalese capital was a C-130J Super Hercules with 55 passengers, including fur infants, on board at around 10.45 p.m., followed by a C-17 Globemaster III, a little after midnight with 101 passengers and an infant. [Nepal earthquake: As it happened]

In the early hours of Sunday, an IL-76 aircraft brought back 152 passengers. And at around 4.45 a.m., another C-17 Globemaster III returned with 247 Indians.

The Indian defence forces, meanwhile decided to step up their search, rescue and humanitarian efforts in Nepal on Sunday, which was hit by a devastating earthquake just before noon on Saturday, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.

"Ten flights are planned for Kathmandu today. These would be airlifting army forward hospitals, engineering task forces, water, food, National Disaster Response Force teams, medical personnel and equipment, blankets and tents," said Sitanshu Kar, the spokesperson for the defence ministry.

Sunday's sorties will also involve choppers. Kar said six MI helicopters stationed at Gorakhpur, in north-west Uttar Pradesh, and another six at various places were on standby to be pressed into service.

The first to fly out to Kathmandu was a light MI chopper, followed by five MI-17 helicopters from Gorakhpur. "India will also be augmenting rescue efforts by pressing into service four more helicopters, including two Indian Air Force ALH Dhruvs later in the day," Kar said.

Over 1,500 people were killed and thousands were injured when a massive earthquake -- lasting about 20 frightening seconds -- and several strong aftershocks caused widespread destruction in Nepal. India was also affected.

The quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was Nepal's Lamjung district, some 75 km northwest of capital Kathmandu. Over 50 aftershocks were also felt.


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