Foreign rescue teams asked to leave Nepal

New Delhi: Nine days after a massive earthquake shook Nepal and India, leaving over 7000 people dead and over 10,000 injured, India and 33 other nations have been asked by Nepal to pull out their rescue teams nine days after the massive earthquake that has left at least 7,200 people dead in the tiny Himalayan country.

Teams from Japan, Turkey, Ukraine, UK and Netherlands have begun the process of leaving.

The foreign ministry said on Monday that the Nepal government had asked countries to remove their “first response” teams as the focus is now on relief, rather than rescue. Speculation that the Nepal government is angry with foreign agencies was emphatically denied by officials in Kathmandu as well as Delhi.

“As such, Nepal has asked all rescue teams from 34 nations to withdraw. They now need rubble removal equipment and have asked India for help, an army engineering team will be going,” the ministry said.

India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has the largest presence in Nepal; 16 teams of nearly 50 personnel each are involved in the Herculean rescue efforts mounted after the April 25 earthquake. China, with nearly 400 personnel, is the second largest contingent.

“The first responders, the people digging through rubble, those who came with search dogs, those who came with paramedics can now begin the process of leaving,” sources said.

Nepal has all but given up hope of finding any more survivors.

The distribution of aid to survivors has been a major challenge for Nepal. International agencies are worried that relief material pouring in from across the world is piling up at the airport, and has not yet reached people who need it desperately.

The quake brought down thousands of buildings in Kathmandu, severely damaged communication facilities, destroyed roads and snapped bridges.

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