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US Air Force, Special Forces Teams Provide Nepal Aid Support

by Carla Babb April 27, 2015

The Pentagon says it is responding to the call for aid to Nepal by sending about 130 people, including two urban rescue crews, to the region.

The U.S. Air Force has deployed two Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft to Nepal to help the rescue mission there after a devastating earthquake killed more than 4,000 people.

The Pentagon says one C-17 would arrive late Monday with 45 tons of rescue equipment and about 70 people, including a Virginia-based urban search and rescue team. The other C-17 will arrive in Kathmandu with an urban search and rescue team from Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Additionally, the Pentagon says two U.S. military Special Forces teams are in Kathmandu helping with the rescue mission.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren says the 26 Green Berets were there for a training exercise, but quickly shifted to help survivors when the earthquake struck.

"Some of them are helping the Nepal army at Ratna Park as the army is building a tent city for those displaced by earthquake damage,' he said. 'Other members of the Special Forces teams have specialized medical training and are working with the Nepal army to assess and treat the wounded.'

The Pentagon says it could use the aircraft that brought the Special Forces into Nepal to evacuate Americans within the next 48 hours if needed.

U.S. Aid

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States is providing an additional $9 million in aid for earthquake-ravaged Nepal.

The added funding brings to $10 million the total amount announced by the U.S. since Saturday's quake, which has left more than 3,700 people dead.

The U.S. Agency for International Development statement said the money will be used for immediate relief, including search-and-rescue efforts, and providing emergency shelter, clean water and sanitation. According to a USAID statement, the aid also will go to Nepal's longer term recovery, building on 'longstanding partnerships and development assistance.'

The immediate aid included activating an elite Virginia-based earthquake rescue team. The 56-member unit deployed Sunday along with several USAID officials en route to Nepal.

The Virginia Task Force, from Fairfax County near Washington, was 'bringing search capability, digging capability, the ability to get to people who are entombed in the rubble, extricated from the rubble and handed over to qualified medical care,' said Chuck Ryan, deputy fire chief.

A group of 57 specially-trained firefighters from Los Angeles is also on its way to take part in search and rescue efforts and deliver 25 tons of equipment and supplies

The Pentagon said two U.S. military special forces teams in Nepal on a training exercise are now supporting disaster relief, including high-altitude search-and-rescue and medical assistance.

A spokesman added that 'by sheer coincidence' the U.S. military last week provided equipment to the Nepal government to improve its emergency response capabilities.

Numerous private U.S. charities and organizations have also rallied to provide relief. Among them is the American Nepal Society. The group's director, Jean Tinware told VOA Urdu in addition to appealing for funds, the society is helping send volunteer doctors and engineers, and trying to set up a hub on the outskirts of Katmandu to channel aid to affected areas of remote areas of the country.

VOA's State Department Correspondent Pamela Dockins, White House Correspondent Aru Pande contributed to this report.

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