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Finnish rescue team’s Nepal mission cancelled

A group of 29 search and rescue workers who’ve been on standby at Kuopio airport were told today that they will not be flying to Nepal, after the country’s authorities said they do not need any more volunteers to search through the wreckage.

Pelastajaryhmä lähtövalmiina Nepalin maanjäristysalueelle Rissalan lentokentällä Kuopiossa 27. huhtikuuta. Vasemmalla on rauniokoira Haba ja oikealla Karkki.
The Finnish search and rescue volunteer group - complete with sniffer dogs Haba and Karkki - at Kuopio airport yesterday Image: Timo Hartikainen / Lehtikuva

A group of 29 Finnish rescue workers who were due to fly to Nepal to search for survivors have had their trip cancelled, after Nepalese authorities announced yesterday that the country does not need any more volunteers to search through the wreckage.

Last Saturday a massive earthquake devastated Nepal, the poorest country in Asia, killing thousands and leaving many more homeless. On Tuesday the country’s prime minister announced that he expects the death toll to rise beyond 10,000.

The Finnish group, who were due to travel alongside a further 15 Estonians, have been on standby in Kuopio airport since Monday to fly out and help with the search for survivors. The Interior Ministry decided to cancel their trip once the group were unable to get permission to land at Nepal’s single international airport, which is currently reported to be in a state of chaos.

Disappointed

Group members expressed disappointment at the decision to cancel the trip. A further 20 recovery teams are said to be on standby in India, should they become needed.

Co-ordinating the relief work following such a large-scale disaster has proven extremely challenging, with access to many of the worst-affected areas still impossible. Aid workers have also warned that well-meaning volunteers can in fact end up hampering humanitarian efforts if the help offered does not meet the needs on the ground.

Relief workers in Nepal have said the current priorities include clearing roads in order to reach cut-off areas, and building temporary shelters to house the country’s many homeless.

Meanwhile a team of Finnish Red Cross workers who were due to travel in the same plane as the rescue delegation told Yle they are now looking at other options for getting to the country sometime this week.

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