story and photos courtesy of CARE

The village of Yarsa in the Sindhupalchok district of eastern Nepal, had already been seriously damaged by the first earthquake on 25 April. Many homes had been razed to the ground and possessions and food lost. CARE teams were in the village doing an assessment for the needs of the community, when suddenly the second earthquake stuck Nepal on 12 May.

During the quake, Nima was trapped under falling rubble from her house. She suffered a severe hip fracture and was bleeding internally.

She needed urgent medical attention in order to save her life. But the only road down to the nearby town of Melamchi was cut off by landslides and there was no access in or out of the village. 

CARE called on MAF to facilitate a flight to medically evacuate Nima Dolma Tamang and take her to hospital in Kathmandu.

Luckily there was a local Nepalese volunteer doctor in the village already assisting those injured by the first quake, and he was able to perform some initial lifesaving interventions before the helicopter arrived.

Thanks to the medevac her condition was stabilised in hospital and her life was saved.

Nima was successfully discharged from hospital on 14 May.

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See film clip at

11016975_996785277007845_6898012951411996814_nStory and photo LuAnne Cadd

The MAF Disaster Team on the ground in Nepal continues to be extremely busy with the co-ordination work of the helicopter response facility, especially since the second quake earlier this week. Many organisations are having to re-evaluate where they need to deploy staff and aid resources – both to areas hit hardest by the initial quake and the subsequent quakes this week.

In some villages, two-thirds of the houses had collapsed in the first earthquake on 25th April. After the second earthquake on 12th May, all remaining houses have been destroyed.

It is clear that there is a huge demand and need for our service which does not appear to diminish. The subsidised flights we are able to co-ordinate are providing a unique lifeline, especially for many smaller faith-based NGOs.

MAF partners with NGO Acted

Less than 24 hours after the second strong earthquake rocked Nepal, MAF coordinated helicopter flights to the epicentre to assess the damange. The 7.3 quake caused panic among many Nepali people with the memory of the devastating 25th April earthquake still fresh from three weeks before.

The epicenter for the latest quake was east of Kathmandu this time in an area that was not listed as priority in the relief effort. For this reason, a French NGO, Acted, wanted to quickly check on the condition of the villages in that area to see if they needed immediate assistance.

What we saw was shocking. Nearly every home lay in a pile of rubble.

Even the few houses that were still standing obviously suffered serious damage – too damaged to live in, especially with the multiple aftershocks the country is still receiving.

The helicopter pilot searched for a place to land, finally choosing a narrow flat spot with drop-offs on both sides, and cracks in the earth running through several sections. It was empty of people, but a village lay a short distance away. Within minutes villagers came running. The two Acted staff, Elena Tifrea and Toma Dursima, gathered information from the people. Once they found someone who spoke English, they learned the hard news: in the village of 500 people and about 150 homes, the first earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the houses. The earthquake yesterday finished off the last 50. None were habitable.

No one had come to help. No tarps brought, no food.

They had some food left, noodles and biscuits only, they said. The water pipes had broken, latrines destroyed, everything gone.

One man kept saying, “We have nothing, nothing.” It was truly heartbreaking.

As we flew away, Elena and Toma began making plans to come back as soon as possible with tarps and food, not only for this village but also for others equally damaged near the epicenter.

Although it’s distressing to see such loss and devastation, organizations like Acted are able to get to these remote places with the help of MAF coordinating the subsidized helicopter flights.

Elena said, “Thank you for your support, MAF. We could not do it without you.”

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Daniel Juzi and helicopter 5 may 2015 (3)Photo D Forney

On 5 May 2015, MAF helped facilitate several flights for a UK medical team to a couple of isolated villages deep in the hard-hit mountains of Northern Nepal.  This medical team from the UK are a group of doctors and medics volunteering their time and coordinating their efforts with Save the Children, who have been working in communities north of Kathmandu.

MAF is managing the logistics, bookings and facilitation of two, highly capable helicopters with some of the most experienced crew in Nepal, able to take relief workers directly into the places where the help is most desperately needed.

Over the weekend our Disaster Response Team have been working hard in Nepal as part of the urgent relief effort needed following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred 12 days ago (April 25 2015).

We initially believed our key involvement would be in helping authorities and relief agencies with logistics at the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu including ramp management and planning, cargo handling, warehousing logistics and coordination. However, over the course of the last few days we have become increasingly involved in facilitating urgently needed helicopter flights enabling medical and search and rescue teams to quickly reach remote and isolated areas.

Due to good relations with contacts in Nepal built over many years, over the last few days MAF have secured the use of two Airbus AS350 helicopters operated by a helicopter company based in Nepal. On Friday 1 May the MAF team received a request from the UK government Department for International Development (DFID) to use these helicopters to rescue eight British tourists who were stranded at a monastery at Serang Gompa, Bihi near Lho.

On Saturday the helicopters were mobilized and the British nationals successfully rescued.

You can read more here.

The location didn’t initially look that isolated as it was only  20 nautical miles but the situation out there was absolutely desperate and it would take 3.5 hours of driving and 8 hours trek on foot.

This work continued over the weekend, with a 4 further flights on behalf of DFID to fly UK Search and Rescue teams to different locations and yesterday we flew a surgical team from UK who will be stationed for two days at remote villages to carry out life-saving operations. Due to the success of the work this weekend and the clear and urgent need for a co-ordinated light helicopter response facility for NGOs to use to transport humanitarian aid workers, the UK government DFID have agreed to part-fund MAF to set up and run a co-ordinated helicopter facility and the MAF Member Groups will be launching fundraising activity to raise the additional funds we need for this important life-saving work.

6 MAF staff have formed our well-equipped Disaster Response Team and will continue to coordinate our support in Nepal.

In addition to the helicopter flight facilitation over the weekend, the team have also been working on logistics at the airport including training on the DFID-donated cargo loading equipment (see photo).

Using this equipment means improved and accelerated flow of aid cargo with quicker delivery to aid agencies and ultimately earlier distribution to end beneficiaries and faster cargo extraction from aircraft to transit area thus freeing up apron slots at the airport for more landings per day. In addition to using this equipment to assist smaller NGOs and the UN World Food Programme, the aim is also for the MAF team to train national Nepali staff at the airport to use this equipment to help build ongoing staff capacity to continue cargo handling operations in a safe and efficient manner.

Please pray

Please continue to pray for our team on the ground in Nepal. Pray for strength and wisdom as they work so hard to meet the increasing demands for our services. Praise the Lord for the successful flights that we have been able to facilitate so far and for the estimated 4,000 humanitarian relief workers currently engaged in this relief effort. Pray also for our fundraisers across the whole MAF family as they engage with donors and supporters and share the work we are doing in Nepal.

Please also continue to pray for the people of Nepal. With a death toll of more than 7,500 and over 14,500 injured, the country now faces the risk of serious outbreaks of disease. A lack of shelter, contaminated water and poor sanitation could lead to cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases and urgent action is needed to tackle this before the rainy season starts in June. The UN also estimates that there are 3 million people in need of food aid, 130,000 houses destroyed and 24,000 people living in makeshift camps.

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MAF’s Disaster Response Team has been working to assess how we may be able to help after a serious 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country on Saturday.

The scenes emerging on the media are horrifying. More than 4,500 people are confirmed dead, with a further 8,000 injured. The Nepali Government suspects the death toll may rise to 10,000. The destruction has left tens of thousands of people displaced and ongoing aftershocks mean many more are afraid to return to their homes.

Landslides, heavy rains, limited access to isolated areas and a lack of food and water are immediate concerns in the rescue effort.

MAF staff have arrived

We are in communication with several partner relief agencies and have sent two MAF staff to conduct initial needs assessment activity on the ground in Nepal. One arrived on Tuesday and the other on Wednesday – and will be in a better position to link in with organisations on the ground to see what is needed and how MAF can help.

Initial research has indicated that there are many remote hill villages now almost entirely cut off and without aid – but that the need will be for small helicopters rather than bigger aircraft. 

Working with NGOs

MAF staff have already met with a number of organisations, including the UN and Medair. Medair staff are encountering serious road access constraints at the moment with it taking 3 hours to drive the equivalent of 10 nautical miles (that would take around 4 minutes in a MAF 208 Caravan.)

At the moment there still seems a limited need for our aircraft and we have not heard of any fixed wing airstrips in areas which need urgent disaster response. There is a need for smaller helicopters especially to transport relief workers out into the most remote areas. We are currently looking at whether we can help co-ordinate a light helicopter service using a local operator or work with an organisation like Helimission and we are also seeing if we could help provide assistance at the airport – especially with logistical management, ramp planning and cargo loading/unloading.

The MAF team in Mongolia have their Cessna Caravan aircraft on standby to go to Nepal if required. Flight permissions are being looked into and obtained in case it is decided that we need to send a plane in.

MAF’s expertise in aviation and communications has helped save lives in situations including the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and the Boxing Day tsunami in Sumatra, Indonesia in 2004/5.

At present, no donations are needed for Nepal unless our response escalates. However, you can pray.

Please pray for Nepal:

– For people affected by the earthquake in Nepal and surrounding regions.

– For those mourning the loss of friends and family.

– For NGOs already on the ground assisting with the disaster response.

– Praise the Lord for the stories of rescue we are hearing and please pray for safety for all those relief workers trying to assist.

– For wisdom for our disaster relief team as they travel in Nepal to get a clear idea of how we can best serve and respond to the disaster.

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