This morning, the Israel Defense Forces opened the doors of a 60-bed field hospital it set up yesterday next to Nepal’s military hospital in Kathmandu.
Described as the largest IDF field hospital ever, the facility and its 130-strong Israeli medical team are expected to treat thousands of Nepalese and Israeli citizens injured in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake last Saturday.
Overall, about 8,000 people in Nepal are reported injured. The field hospital can handle 200 patients at a time.
“I would like to emphasize that we are highly motivated and ready for our task here; we are proud to represent the state and we hope to save lives and achieve results,” IDF relief mission leader Col. Yoram Laredo told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, when the delegation landed following several delays due to dangerous conditions in Kathmandu.
The flight also brought about 100 IDF personnel dedicated to search-and-rescue operations in Nepal. Some will dedicate their efforts to seeking about nine Israeli citizens still missing after the quake. In addition, a few Israeli backpackers in Kathmandu offered to volunteer at the field hospital, which could remain in operation for up to three weeks.
The field hospital is also equipped with surgical and obstetrical departments as well as a laboratory for processing blood samples, according to IDF Spokeswoman Lt. Libby Weiss. “We also have an eye doctor and other types of specialists,” she told The Times of Israel.
Also on Tuesday, a second IsraAID team of 15 search-and-rescue specialists took off for Nepal to join the advance team already on the ground. Together they will travel to the Sindhupalchowk district, one of the worst hit areas, and one that has yet to receive much assistance.
“I fear thousands of bodies are still buried under the rubble in villages. It’s like a huge bomb went off here,” said IsraAID Asia Director Yotam Polizer, who is heading the Nepal mission, having previously spent more than three years working in Nepal. Polizer also led emergency missions to Japan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Vanuatu.
IsraAID is one of several Israeli nonprofits that have sent emergency workers to Nepal this week, in addition to the IDF delegation. According to figures compiled by CNN, Israel has sent more personnel to the disaster scene than has any other country.