Nepal (MNN) — An aviation ministry is doing their part in assisting remote areas devastated by the two earthquakes in Nepal.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is providing helicopter transportation to remote areas of Nepal hit hard by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on April 25. MAF is also assisting authorities and relief agencies at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu with ramp management and planning, cargo handling, warehousing logistics, and coordination.
Because of their ongoing assistance, MAF workers experienced the latest earthquake that hit near Mt. Everest. Brent Palmer says, “We had a room full of people here, and it was a mad dash to get out and get outside because the building was shaking quite badly. And on the way down, the tiles had already fallen off the wall.
Mike Bottrell, another MAF worker, says their helicopter was shaking and so were other aircraft at the airport. “People were pouring out of the hangers. All the pigeons in the roof of the hanger were ripping out of the hanger and flying away. Then, somebody starts yelling, ‘Dust!’ And…all around the horizon in the valley you could see big plumes of dust shooting up out of the ground like bombs had struck. That’s where buildings were collapsing.”
Jennifer Bottrell, another MAF staffer, said they received many helicopter search flight requests. Those had to be turned down. “If we sent the helicopter out, we wouldn’t have been able to rescue the one person we knew was injured.”
Many Nepalese are frustrated, says Bottrell. “I heard about one family that had finished a one-room shack while they rebuilt their house, and that one-room shack is now flattened.”
These are just some of the stories coming out of Nepal following the second quake.
“We keep hearing about the many people in remote parts on Nepal who are suffering or injured, but no one is able to reach them,” said John Boyd, president and CEO of MAF. “MAF’s disaster response team has mobilized helicopters to take relief workers to those areas that have been cut off from help.”
Headquartered in Nampa, Idaho, Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf.org) is a Christian organization that uses aviation and technology to enable the work of churches, medical organizations, and relief agencies in the world’s most isolated communities. MAF has decades of disaster response experience, and provided critical services following the Haiti earthquake of 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and in the Ebola outbreak last summer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Within days of the quake, MAF personnel arrived in Nepal to assess needs and determine how the organization could best assist. It was soon apparent that the small airport in Kathmandu was being overwhelmed with relief flights and incoming aid workers. As airport logistics is one of MAF’s areas of expertise, MAF staff from various locations around the world have been dispatched to assist.
“MAF is experienced in coordinating air transportation and other disaster response logistics. We are serving both airport staff and relief agencies so that help can reach those who need it most,” Boyd stated.
MAF’s Manager of Aviation Services Tim Chase says they’re also contracting with a local helicopter operator. “We are managing the usage of those helicopters to reach some of those more remote areas.”
Helicopter flights began on May 3, carrying search and rescue teams to mountain locations as well as transporting medical teams to remote villages where they are treating the injured. The MAF team flew two critically-injured patients to Kathmandu for further care and helped rescue a group of travelers stranded in the mountains.
The death toll in Nepal is now reported to be more than 8,000, and many thousands are injured. Because of blocked roads or mountain passes, as well as inadequate transportation infrastructure, many remote communities still have not been reached. People are in need of medical care, food, water, and shelter. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the World Food Program (WFP) have been providing food to some of the hardest-hit areas; however, they are unable to transport relief workers or conduct medical evacuations.
How you can help:
“We are grateful to God for those who have contacted MAF to offer their prayers and assistance,” said Boyd. To respond to the disaster, MAF has set up the Nepal Disaster Relief Fund. Click here to help.
Founded in 1945, Mission Aviation Fellowship is a family or organizations with a singular mission: to share the love of Jesus through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed. MAF serves in 31 countries of Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America with a fleet of 132 aircraft.