Even as the rescue operations are underway in the earthquake-hit Nepal, over 200 people from Karnataka, majority of whom are Bengalureans, are still stranded in the mountain nation. While 150 people from the State have safely reached their homeland in last two days thanks to the rescue operation, a large number of people are yet to fly back.
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Ritesh Kumar Singh, Disaster Management Secretary, told Citizen Matters that the State government has put all its efforts to get in touch with people from Karnataka who are stranded in Nepal and make their return hassle-free. “Evacuation measures have been taken up to help those stuck in Nepal. As on today, the total number of Kannadigas who were in Nepal during the earthquake is 381 of which 150 have returned. None from Karnataka has figured in the list of casualties so far. We have sent two IAS officials from the State to help the evacuation process and yet another team has reached Varanasi today to help those who are returning by road. A team of 10 doctors too has been sent to Nepal for medical aid,” he said.
An official from the disaster management department said that there are cases where the department was not able to get in touch with stranded individuals based on the complaints given by their families. The number of stranded people could be much more and it keeps changing. But now with additional teams sent for rescue operation, the department is hoping to get in touch with all stranded individuals, the official said.
Stories of safe arrivals
For Santhosh Naik and his family, who are the residents of J P Nagar, it was a breather to arrive at Bengaluru. Santhosh, along with his wife, cousin, brother-in-law and niece was on Nepal tour for a week. Narrating the incident, Naik told Citizen Matters: “We were all in our hotel room when we first felt the tremor. Soon we realised it was earthquake and ran out of the hotel. My wife, while climbing down the stairs was injured. Within few hours, we managed to contact Indian Embassy and they directed us to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Due to the injury that my wife was suffering, the Air Force personnel allowed us to flee down to Delhi in the second flight on April 26th and we returned to Bengaluru on the next day.”
Siddharamaiah L, a resident of Mysore road junction who had been on Nepal tour with three family members too returned safely to Bengaluru on April 27th night. “We were near Paushupathinath temple during the quake. We all ran into an open ground to save our lives. We saw buildings collapsing and people dying right in front of our eyes,” he said. He thanked Kannadigas in the hotel where they had booked their accommodation in Nepal, tourism agency, Air Force personnel, Karnataka Bhavan staff in Delhi for extending them all the necessary help.
While a section of tourists have returned to their homeland bringing cheer to their families, there are also cases where the families have not been able to trace their loved ones who are still stranded in Nepal. Such was the case of Suguna Narakesari, a Bengaluru-based trekker. Her family was not able to get in touch with her from the day earthquake occurred. Suguna’s cousin Vasanthi Hariprakash, a radio journalist, said that Suguna had been to the Annapurna trek in Nepal.
“When her mother and aunt last spoke to her, she said she was in Kathmandu, she could feel fresh tremors and could see a road before her split. Suguna had also said that she had tried for help in the Indian Embassy but got no response as there were way too many people milling around the place, after which there has been no communication from her side,” Vasanthi said.
Even as Suguna’s brother placed her details on Google Person finder, many accounts say that Suguna is on her way to Delhi.
ESG’s plea for support
City based not-for profit organisation, Environment Support Group, has requested Bengalureans to mobilise support for relief and rehabilitation in the quake-hit Nepal. Apart from monetary aid, the organisation has requested people to make medical and other essential contributions like clean blankets, clothes, food, tarpaulin for shelters to be transported to Nepal. For more information visit this link.
Before donating anything, please read this article from The Guardian. Donate wisely, and do what is required, not what would stand in the way of rescue operations.
The State govt has set up a helpline to deal with the situation. Call 1070 (toll-free), 22253707 or 22032582 for enquiries.
Officers on deputation to Nepal
Pankaj Kumar Pandey (IAS): 9900095440
Umesh Kumar (IPS): 9480800029
Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi
Rangaswamy (Joint Resident Commissioner) 9868393991
Shambhulingappa (Asst Liason Officer) 9868393989