Search-and-rescue officials planned to deploy from Los Angeles to Nepal Sunday night in order to aid in international relief efforts after a devastating earthquake killed more than 3,200 people.
The 57-member team, called CA-TF2, is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and planned to arrive in the nation’s capital of Kathmandu on Monday, according to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nepalese people and we are eager to get our world-class first responders on the ground to help those that are still being impacted by this terrible event,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci stated.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, northwest of Kathmandu, on Saturday, killing more than 3,200 people.
The rescuers hope to find people who survived the quake and are trapped under rubble.
“When there’s an earthquake, there’s collapses and many times there’s a void space that somebody has survived the earthquake and they could be down for there a few hours, a few days,” Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp said. “We rescued a number of people in the (1994) Northridge earthquake that we found in void spots like that.”
The L.A. team was expected to be in Nepal by Monday. Members had previously aided people after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, Oklahoma tornados in 2013, and Washington mudslides in 2014, among several other major world disasters, CAL OES stated.
“So they’ve got that experience of seeing massive destruction. Infrastructure heavily damaged, out placed people,” Tripp said.
Battalion Chief Robert Harris has worked with the team for 18 years, and says he hopes the devastation in Nepal will remind Angelenos to prepare for the “big one.”
“Every time we have another big shaker somewhere in the world, it’s … a wake up call, really, for preparedness here at home,” Harris said. “We need to take this seriously and make sure that we and our families are prepared.”
CA-TF2 is one of eight such state/national teams that make up the California Urban Search and Rescue Program. The team was deployed at the request of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Nepalese officials.