Singapore team co-ordinates international search and rescue efforts in 2 quake-hit areas

The Singapore team sent to aid recovery operations in Nepal after a massive earthquake are conducting search and rescue (SAR) exercises with three other countries on Wednesday.

Singapore forces are co-ordinating an operation in Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts, with teams from Spain and Belgium.

About 80 men and women from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday.

"We met with the teams from Spain and Belgium to coordinate a SAR in the Gorkha region, where the terrain is quite treacherous. At the same time the roads leading to Gorkha might be affected as well," said LTC Alvin Tan, SCDF commander of Operations Lionheart.

The Gorkha mission comprises about 70 people and eight dogs from Singapore, Belgium and Spain.

Besides the Gorkha region, the SCDF is also mounting operations in Lalitpur, south of Kathmandu.

"We are working together with Malaysia in this particular mission, also a SAR operation, and we hope to find some lives," said LTC Tan.

But as the 96-hour window for successful search-and-rescue closes, teams are also turning their attention to recovering the bodies of the dead.

"For us, part of the mission is not just SAR of life, but as we move along if we are able to rescue any bodies, we will still do it, conduct the mission and at least give the family closure," LTC Tan added.

International search and rescue teams have found only 13 people alive, United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination advisor Arjun Katoch said on Wednesday.