Search and rescue teams rush to help Nepal

U.S. rescuers and Nepali police on April 30 helped rescue this boy, trapped under rubble for five days. (© AP Images)

More than 12,000 kilometers separate Nepal from the United States, but that’s not stopping America’s best search and rescue teams from helping the country’s people after the devastating April 25 earthquake.

President Obama “pledged that the United States will do all that it can to help the people of Nepal in their time of need” during an April 29 phone call with Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, the White House said.

As Nepal wrestles with the tragedy caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, rescue teams from Fairfax County, Virginia, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department are working to save lives with hard work, specialized equipment and rescue dogs.

A rescue dog with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department searches for survivors in earthquake rubble in Nepal. (Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department)

The rescue teams are part of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team. On April 27, the United States pledged an additional $9 million in relief assistance for Nepal after an initial $1 million in immediate assistance.

In coordination with the government of Nepal, the United States has so far supplied:

  • 130 humanitarian experts and search and rescue team personnel.

  • 41,000 kilograms (90,000 pounds) of equipment for coordination and rescue efforts.

  • 700 rolls of plastic sheeting to help up to 35,000 people with emergency shelter needs.

By current estimates, more than 5,000 people have died from the earthquake. Another 8 million have been affected. Aftershocks continue to cause more destruction, challenging rescuers in urban and hard-to-reach rural areas.

The United States joins the United Nations, other countries and international groups working on disaster relief in coordination with the government of Nepal.

“This is a pretty well-oiled machine, actually,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. “There is a whole international system for deploying and coordinating search and rescue teams.”

Help contribute to earthquake relief by visiting this USAID page that provides links to organizations helping Nepal’s citizens during this difficult time. Keep up-to-date with the latest U.S. relief efforts in Nepal through the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu Facebook page.