South Wales Fire and Rescue Service in Nepal

This story was published on Cardiff News Plus website in April 2015

The death toll and number of injured is constantly rising in Nepal. Six members of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are now in Kathmandu as part of the UK International Search and Rescue Team (UKISAR).

More than 5,000 people have been confirmed dead and 10,000 injured in the country due to the earthquake on the 25 April. According to the National Emergency Operation Center thousands of people are still missing. Click to the audio below to listen to the radio package.



The UKISAR team is comprised of nearly 70 highly-skilled technical experts from 15 UK fire and rescue services. They have previously worked in New Zealand after the earthquake in 2011 and in Indonesia after the 2010 tsunami and earthquake. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Richard Matheson says this is a highly-capable team: “They can listen for casualties… Once they locate casualties then they have the capability of sure up buildings and make buildings safe.” Apart from the physical aspect, UKISAR team faces tough situations when rescuing and assisting victims. Mr Matheson says that there is a trained team here in South Wales to assist any of these members who may experience a psychological trauma.

The team was deployed from London Stansted airport on Sunday. Due to heavy air traffic at Kathmandu’s airport, with many humanitarian flights, they were diverted to Delhi. Richard Matheson says that the team is now in Kathmandu and it has been assigned the northern area of the capital, where they have set up a base camp and have started the rescue mission.

UKISAR teams are normally deployed for 14 days, due to the intensity of their work. The team in Nepal is on a mission of 7-14 days but “if it heads towards the 14 days, a decision will be made and and another team will be sent to replace them”, Richard Matheson said.

First views of UKISAR arriving in Kathmandu. Photo: UKISAR
First views of UKISAR arriving in Kathmandu. Photo: UKISAR

Nepal’s PM Sushil Koirala said that the death toll is expected to reach 10,000, as many people are still missing and rescue efforts are still underway, especially in the remote areas.

More than eight million people are affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake, this means more than a quarter of the country’s population, who are now in desperate need of food and water.