Nepal earthquake: UK sends Chinooks to aid relief mission

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Media captionPeople returning to the UK from Nepal talk about what happened when the earthquake hit

Three RAF Chinook helicopters are being sent to help the relief effort in Nepal, International Development Secretary Justine Greening says.

The helicopters are in addition to the £2.5m donated by the UK to the UN's Humanitarian Air Service.

The military and UN helicopters will ferry people and aid supplies across remote and hard-to-reach terrain.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that British dual national Hemchandra Rai, 42, was killed in the disaster.

The married father of three lived in Hong Kong. Reports of another British victim killed at Mount Everest base camp are still being investigated.

Ms Greening said: "These highly versatile Royal Air Force helicopters and UN aircraft will mean life-saving aid supplies can be moved around Nepal and reach people in remote communities cut off by the earthquake who are in desperate need.

"Conditions in Nepal are dire, but the UK is determined to do everything it can to help support Nepal and its people."

Image copyright Department for International Development
Image caption Aid sent from the UK has already arrived in Nepal
Image copyright Department for International Development
Image caption Hundreds of shelter kits and solar lanterns are among 18 tonnes of supplies sent from the UK
Image copyright Department for International Development
Image caption The UK has pledged £15m in aid to the earthquake-stricken country

The three CH47 Chinook aircraft will be transported from RAF Brize Norton to the region.

The Department for International Development (DfID) says the first Chinook is being prepared for transit on Thursday and will be sent out on Friday, with the other two being sent in the coming days.

The Foreign Office also confirmed that two of its teams, deployed to locate and assist British nationals in remote areas, helped rescue eight British nationals who were then transported from Dhunche to Kathmandu.

Some 300 British citizens have been assisted by the British embassy in Kathmandu since Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake struck, killing more than 5,500 people.

An aid flight carrying 120 Britons from Nepal to the UK landed on Thursday.

There were emotional scenes as family members greeted relatives after the plane landed at Stansted Airport shortly after 03:00 BST.

Meanwhile, a boy and a woman have been rescued from collapsed buildings in Kathmandu after surviving for five days in the rubble.

Image caption Grahame and Holly Jobes were reunited on Thursday

Among those arriving back at Stansted on board the DfID-chartered Boeing 767 - which flew aid out to Nepal on Sunday - were children and people chosen as a priority because of health conditions.

The youngest passenger was a three-month-old baby.

Husband and wife Grahame and Holly Jobes, from Sunderland, were reunited as he stepped through immigration.

Mr Jobes, who was in Nepal for a friend's wedding, told the BBC he was in Kathmandu when the earthquake struck.

"Things were dropping down, people were running," he said.

"I am very fortunate, I managed to get out. I was next to people who are no longer here."

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Image caption Friends and family of the British nationals waited at Stansted Airport for the plane's arrival
Image copyright PA
Image caption There were emotional scenes as family members greeted relatives at the airport

Harry Quinn, 26, from Brighton, said a hotel - which had turned him away because it was full - completely collapsed with 80 people inside.

"We were among the lucky ones but we saw plenty of others who weren't so lucky."

Chris Berriman, from Morpeth, Northumberland, arrived back in the UK on Monday. He said he was in a bookshop in Kathmandu when the quake struck.

"I dropped to my knees in the doorway and watched large cracks appear in the walls around me," he said.

"I staggered out into the streets when the quake passed. The streets are narrow with tall buildings so there was debris falling everywhere."

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Media captionMother fears for safety of daughter caught in Nepal earthquake

About 30 British and Irish families are reportedly still waiting for news of their loved ones who may have been in Nepal at the time of the earthquake.

Judy Ross, from Bath, said she feared for the safety of her daughter, Susannah Ross, 20, who is among a group of trekkers stranded in northern Nepal following the earthquake.

She has heard her daughter is alive, but said she did not know what state she was in and that she feared boulders "the size of a car" were still falling in the area.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Nepalese prime minister has said the death toll could double to 10,000
Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption The damage in Kathmandu is extensive, with many buildings not surviving the earthquake
Image copyright Chris Berriman
Image caption Members of the Nepalese armed forces have been assisting in the aid effort

An appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has raised more than £19m in the UK - including £14m in public donations and £5m from the government, which matched the first £5m of public donations.

The UK government has also pledged £15m to Nepal in aid.

Members of a 60-strong UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team have also started searching for victims on the ground - including in remote parts of Nepal - with specialist rescue dogs.

Hundreds of shelter kits and solar lanterns are among 18 tonnes of supplies from the UK which have arrived in the devastated region, Ms Greening said.

A team of Gurkha engineers - 12 from 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles and six from the Queen's Gurkha Engineers - has also travelled to the country to help operate water purification equipment.

The DEC, an umbrella organisation that brings together 13 British aid charities to deal with international crises, has launched a website and donation line.

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Image caption Children and those with health conditions were given priority for the flight to Britain
Image copyright PA
Image caption The flight from Nepal carrying 120 Britons arrived at Stansted airport shortly after 03:00 BST

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