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Two Icelanders Dispatched to Nepal for Quake Aid

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Two Icelanders Dispatched to Nepal for Quake Aid

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Archive photo of Icelandic Search and Rescue workers. Photo: Landsbjörg.

Two members of the Hafnarfjörður search and rescue association, Gísli Rafn Ólafsson and Andri Rafn Sveinsson, have been sent to Nepal on behalf of Nethope, the umbrella organization for the 42 largest search and rescue associations in the world.

Their primary task will be to evaluate the condition of the telecommunications system in the country and establish the necessary actions to repair it, a statement from ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue, reads.

The UN has announced that enough search and rescue teams have been sent to Nepal to help rescue people from collapsed buildings and so ICE-SAR will not send a team.

It is feared that the number of dead in Nepal may soon reach 10,000, theguardian.com reports. A magnitude 7.9 earthquake hit the country on Saturday, followed by several strong aftershocks.

Rescue teams have yet to reach remote villages, which were almost completely destroyed in the catastrophe, and survivors are facing lack of food and clean water.

Icelandic climber Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir, who was at Camp 1 on Mount Everest when the earthquake hit, wrote on Facebook that she is thankful for being alive while grieving for the five people on her team who didn’t make it. Nine were injured.

Had Vilborg been at Base Camp at the time, she would have died in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake.

“I was lying in my tent, relaxing, when I noticed the vibration. Being on a glacial tongue, I jumped out to check what was going on … and soon we started hearing the avalanches. We jumped back into the tent and lay down, hoping that they wouldn’t reach us. My heart was beating fast and the fear was overwhelming. The camp was spared but … the next thing we heard was that there was nothing left of our camp further down. Little by little the pieces of the puzzle came together and the picture was devastating. It was hard being stuck and not being able to contribute. The following hours and night were difficult. I’ve never been this afraid. I reached Base Camp yesterday and it was a shock seeing what it looked like. The situation in the villages around us is very bad,” Vilborg wrote.

Vilborg explained that while waiting for a flight to Kathmandu, which could take days, she and her team is helping with the clean-up.

Another Icelandic climber, Ingólfur Axelsson, lost three from his team in the avalanche. He is also back at Base Camp, visir.is reports.

Actavis plc, the parent company of Actavis in Iceland, is contributing ISK 3.5 million (USD 26,000, EUR 24,000) to disaster relief in Nepal through the British NGO International Health Partners (IHP) and is looking into ways to donate medicine and medical equipment, mbl.is reports.

The Icelandic government is contributing ISK 10 million.

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