Congested airport slows local aid response to Nepal disaster

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) –  Operation Blessing plans to reach devastated areas outside of Kathmandu today. Earlier, 10 On Your Side reported the organization had trouble getting its team on the ground in Nepal, because the airport is so congested.

Vice president of international operations David Darg landed Tuesday morning, and plans to bring tents, blankets, food and water to outlying areas where aid workers have had a hard time reaching so far.

Darg is already reporting back to Operation Blessing an extreme shortage of safe drinking water. Another staff member with Operation Blessing will go to Nepal this week with 40 handheld water purifiers, each capable of cleaning 80 gallons of water per battery charge, plus two larger machines that can disinfect 300,000 gallons of water per day.

Monday:

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A locally-based charity is working to put a disaster relief team on the ground in Nepal after a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake near the capital city of Kathmandu.

Aftershocks rocked the region over the weekend, slowing rescue and search and recovery efforts, Nepalese officials reported. The death toll climbed to more than 4,000 Monday.

Operation Blessing International, of Virginia Beach, said it could not get vice president of international operations David Darg on the ground in Nepal, even though he boarded a plane just hours after the earthquake first struck.

“The whole plane is filled with search and rescue teams,” said Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing. “It’s very frustrating. There are people from all over the world trying to get in there, but there’s a bottleneck at that airport, and that’s not going to change any time soon.”

Horan said Darg’s plane circled for an hour and a half Monday morning before it was diverted to India to refuel. Another flight encountered a similar problem and turned back to Abu Dhabi.

Once Darg lands in Kathmandu, he will meet with Operation Blessing’s partner, the Nepali Rescue Project, and determine immediate needs.

“The number one thing that we did in Haiti that saved lives in the first week or two was to provide safe water,” Horan said.

Darg is carrying several small, but powerful water purifiers with him. Each device can clean 80 gallons of water in a matter of minutes, and they can be recharged using solar power.

When he’s able to better assess needs and understand customs restrictions, Horan said Operation Blessing will send bigger water purifiers.

“We need cash, in order to support our relief efforts there,” he said. “The blankets, the food, the water, we buy that locally, and that helps the local economy. So, if we have cash, we can wire money to our partner’s bank account right away, there in Kathmandu, and immediately, we can bring relief to people, with no time delay. We can respond in real time.”

Horan said that 100 percent of money donated specifically to this relief effort will go to Nepal. For more information on how to help, visit OB.org.

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