The strongest earthquake hitting Nepal in over 80 years on 25th April 2015 caused massive destruction and damage around the epicenter area and in the capital of Kathmandu. As of the last count more than 6,000 people are estimated to be dead with the death tolls set to go up further with around 8 million people affected in some way or other.
In Nepal’s greatest moment of need its neighbor, Bhutan has steeped in to help generously and urgently. The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay travelled on a special flight on 27th and personally hand a cheque for USD 1 million to the Prime Minister of Nepal as a contribution from the people of Bhutan to the people of Nepal towards rehabilitation efforts.
Lyonchhen conveyed His Majesty the King’s deep concern and anguish for the people of Nepal for their sufferings brought about by this natural disaster. He also delivered letters of condolences from His Majesty to the Prime Minister and the President of Nepal.
A special medical team also traveled to Kathmandu in the special flight to lend assistance to the Nepalese people, upon the Royal Command of His Majesty the King.
The 62-member team comprises of a medical team coordinated by the Kidu Mobile
Medical Unit of His Majesty’s Secretariat, Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) personnel, medical specialists from the Ministry of Health, and Desuups.
The team will assist in medical treatment of victims of the disaster and is equipped to set up outdoor medical camps. They are carrying medicines, medical equipments and relief materials including clothes and blankets from His Majesty the King.
Lyonchhen returned on the same afternoon by the special flight, which brought back some Bhutanese who are stranded in Nepal.
Meanwhile, the National Flag was flown at half-mast to mourn the loss of lives due to the earthquake. His Majesty the King and representatives of the government offered 1,000 butter lamps at the Kuenrey of the Tashichhodzong for the victims of the earthquake.
Given the current situation, all Bhutanese are advised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to travel to Nepal until further notice.
According to the information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bhutanese Relief Team, Bhutan4Nepal, has reached Trishuli, District HQ of Nuwakot.
Towards facilitating and enabling relief efforts in Nepal, a coordination meeting was held on 28th April at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang. Chaired by the Cabinet Secretary Kinzang Wangdi, representatives and officials from the Royal Office of Media, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Bhutan Army, Ministry of Health, Department of Air Transport and Prime Minister’s Office decided on the following.
For better coordination and information dissemination, a control room is to be set up at the Prime Minister’s Office, Thimphu. In Bhutan the cabinet secretary, cabinet director and prime minister’s press secretary were identified as contact persons for information related to relief efforts Bhutan4Nepal in Bhutan. In Nepal the officials to contact are Singye Dorji and Yeshey Wangchuk of Druk Air.
Since medical aid, food and water supply are priority activities, the meeting also discussed on the modalities of dispatching additional consignments to Bhutan’s Relief Team in Nepal. Additional supply of water is to be dispatched in next few days and the next medical supplies is to be dispatched on 7th May. Subsequent supplies of ration and medical supplies are to be sent within 10 days of the last consignments.
A Facebook page of Bhutan4Nepal has also been created. In addition to the government’s efforts there has also been an outpouring of sympathy and support from ordinary citizens. There has been various donation drives attracting considerable public interests.