Congested Nepalese sky delays rescuers

Congested Nepalese sky delays rescuers

Thai military personnel board an air force  C-130 airplane at Don Muang military airport, Bangkok, on Tuesday morning, en route to Nepal to  help with earthquake relief operations. (Photo by Krit Phromsakla Na Sakolnakorn)
Thai military personnel board an air force C-130 airplane at Don Muang military airport, Bangkok, on Tuesday morning, en route to Nepal to help with earthquake relief operations. (Photo by Krit Phromsakla Na Sakolnakorn)

A Thai Airways International (THAI) flight carrying rescue personnel and journalists to earthquake stricken Nepal was forced to return to Bangkok on Tuesday after being unable to land at heavily congested Kathmandu airport.

THAI flight TG319 carried 295 people to Nepal on Monday. They included rescuers from the United Nations and other international organisations, and Thai reporters.

The flight departed Suvarnabhumi airport at 10.15am Monday but could not land at Kathmandu, where air traffic control was overwhelmed with incoming flights. The Thai Airways plane, a commercial flight, had to make way for aircraft carrying only rescuers and disaster relief. Commercial flights were kept waiting.

The THAI aircraft finally diverted to Calcutta, India, and landed for refueling. It then flew back to Kathmandu, where it was again left circling while aircraft dedicated to carrying relief assistance landed.

After three hours in the stack the plane flew back to Calcutta, landing about 8pm. Finally the plane had to return to Suvarnabhumi airport because hotels in Calcutta were all full. It reached Suvarnabhumi airport about 2am on Tuesday.

THAI operated two flights to Nepal Tuesday morning.

A total of  67 Thai military personnel, including doctors, left for Nepal on a C-130 military transport aircraft on Tuesday morning. They also took essential goods and disaster relief equipment to help earthquake victims there.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday that 40 Thai people took shelter at the Thai embassy in Kathmandu and more were expected there. He said all Thai students and tourists there were safe.

The Thai military would set up a mobile hospital in Nepal and Thai forensic officials would be there to assist in victim identification, Gen Prayut said.

The government was coordinating the collection of donations to assist the victims, he said. At noon  Tuesday the total so far was 127 million baht. Donations could be made through TV stations, local administrative organisations and Damrongtham public complaint centres.

In Kathmandu, the home ministry said on Tuesday the confirmed death toll in Nepal from the devastating earthquake had now risen to 4,310. A further 7,953 people were now known to have been injured in Saturday's quake, said ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.

About 100 people have also been killed in neighbouring countries.


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