Home Team's Nepal force returns to waiting arms of 300 family members at Changi

Family members welcome back 126 Home Team officers at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Saturday. Some 126 Home Team officers returned home on Saturday evening to a rousing welcome after spending two weeks carrying out rescue operations in earthquake-hit
Family members welcome back 126 Home Team officers at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Saturday. Some 126 Home Team officers returned home on Saturday evening to a rousing welcome after spending two weeks carrying out rescue operations in earthquake-hit Nepal. PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
SCDF warrant officer Norherman Latib, 33, carries his four-month-old son Akhtar Umar Norherman, upon returning from the humanitarian mission in Nepal. Some 126 Home Team officers returned home on Saturday evening to a rousing welcome after spending t
SCDF warrant officer Norherman Latib, 33, carries his four-month-old son Akhtar Umar Norherman, upon returning from the humanitarian mission in Nepal. Some 126 Home Team officers returned home on Saturday evening to a rousing welcome after spending two weeks carrying out rescue operations in earthquake-hit Nepal. PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Home Team officers returned home late Saturday night to a heartfelt welcome after spending two weeks carrying out rescue operations in earthquake-hit Nepal. The contingent - comprising 60 officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and 66 from the Singapore Police Force - is the largest the Home Team has deployed for an overseas disaster-relief mission.

Their plane touched down at 11.45pm at Changi Airport, where around 300 family members were waiting.

Among the police contingent were Nepalese Gurkha officers, who provided valuable help as they spoke the language and were more familiar with the terrain.

"Being from there, they were more familiar with the local terrain and the cultural conditions," said Assistant Commissioner of Police Lian Ghim Hua, who led the police contingent. "They got feedback from their local connections on roads that were not passable... so we could plan our movements."

The first batch of officers left Singapore on April 26 for Nepal, where they conducted search and rescue operations, assisted in evacuating disaster victims by helicopter, and rendered medical aid. More followed about a week later.

One of the two female officers was staff sergeant Dan Qiong, a search dog specialist with the SCDF's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

She and her dog were deployed to Lalitpur, where they searched more than 60 buildings and helped to retrieve a body.

"That was the moment that you feel that you want to do whatever you can to help the people there," said the 32-year-old.

Present at Saturday's homecoming was Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Masagos Zulkifli, who welcomed each officer home and thanked them for their hard work in Nepal. "For Singapore, it was a proud moment to have sent all of you," said Mr Masagos, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.