Airline bookings for Kathmandu picked up yesterday as many Nepali expatriates are leaving for home — some because they have lost their near and dear ones, others to be with their families in distress.
This is a lean season for airlines in general so there were average bookings for most destinations, including Kathmandu, but travel agencies said yesterday many Nepalese came over to book their seats to fly home.
“Today (yesterday) we had many people wanting bookings for Kathmandu,” a travel agency official requesting anonymity told this newspaper.
She said that Qatar Airways, which had cancelled all its three Kathmandu flights on Saturday due to the closure of the airport there, had resumed the services yesterday.
However, the airline informed travel agencies that it had rescheduled its 4.15pm Doha-Kathmandu flight QR652 today for 9.15pm.
Qatar Airways has three flights to Kathmandu (up and down) daily — at 12.40pm, 2pm and 4.15pm. Oman Air has two daily services for the Nepali capital while Nepal Airlines and Flydubai have one each. However, according to travel trade sources, both Oman Air and Nepal Airlines have cancelled their flights, while details of Flydubai were not available.
The Embassy of Nepal here confirmed that Nepali expatriates who have lost their relatives and friends or have lost their houses are leaving to be with their families. “We request Qatari employers to allow their Nepali workers to go on leave in these times of crisis. They should give them exit permit,” said Second Secretary at the embassy, Nitesh Sapkota.
Sapkota said at least three Nepalese left for home yesterday after they lost their relatives in the quake that hit their country on Saturday. “They left by the 12.40pm Qatar Airways’ flight.”
Labour Attache Lila Nath Dahal said that at least six Nepalese who are here for one to three months sought the embassy’s help yesterday morning to leave since they had their houses damaged or destroyed.
“They wanted us to help them get exit permits from their employers so they could travel. They will buy air tickets from the salaries they get for April,” Dahal said.
According to embassy estimates, there may be some 400,000 Nepalese in Qatar, 70 percent of whom may be from the plains of Nepal, the remaining from the mountain areas.
People from the mountains have suffered more due to the quake but those from the plains also had their share of misfortune.
Sapkota said that among relief materials urgently required back home are medicines, especially primary health kits, food, tents, blankets and drinking water.
“We have made formal requests for help to Qatar’s government, all diplomatic missions here and international organisations,” he said.
The Non-Resident Nepali Association will coordinate with companies and individuals who would like to donate for the cause, he said.
The embassy, he said, had set up an information centre to provide details about the disaster. People can contact it on the numbers: 00974-55378358, 33587652 and 55337839, and email: [email protected].
In Kathmandu, the contact numbers of the National Emergency Operation Centre are: 00977-1-4200258 and 00977-1-4200203 and 00977-1-4200105.
The Nepal government has set up a corpus titled ‘Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund’, in which foreign nationals as well as Nepalese nationals living abroad and agencies and organisations wishing to make financial contribution can do so.
One of the account numbers is, Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund, account number 01-0132438-01, Standard Chartered Bank Ltd.
At Kathmandu Airport, a desk has been set up for assistance provided by friendly countries and international agencies and organisations. Shankar Prasad Koirala, joint secretary, Home Ministry, is its coordinator. His mobile number is 9841555675.
KATHMANDU: Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts yesterday to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country.
As the death toll in the Himalayan nation surpassed 2,500, the US together with European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas.
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