The official definition of a disaster according to the Government of Nepal is a major incident which causes a serious disruption to life, arising with little or no warning, causing or threatening death or serious injury to, or rendering homeless, such numbers of persons in excess of those which can be dealt with by public services operating under normal procedures, and which calls for the special mobilization and organization of those services". The Government of Nepal has judiciously also added 'environmental degradation' as a disaster in the making.
The Government of Nepal views the Nepalese Army as an inseparable agency in Disaster Relief Operations. Examples of the particular suitability and capability of the armed forces to respond effectively to such incidents abound in Nepalese history. Furthermore, Nepal's status as a developing country does not justify the high costs of maintaining a separate disaster relief organization. Consequently, the Nepalese Army plays a major role in providing emergency assistance to needy people all over the country - a role that has become even more important in the present context.
Primary Roles Of The Nepalese Army In Disaster Management
Nepalese Army has historically provided vital relief during floods, earthquakes, avalanches, fires, landslides, air and other transportation disasters. The primary roles of the Nepalese Army in disaster relief are:
Search & Rescue Missions
Medical assistance & Evacuation, Air Rescue
Mass evacuation, flood control etc.
Nepalese Army to the rescue
Listed below is a mere sampling of some of the incidents in which the Nepalese Army has come to the assistance of served the people in this regard:
In 1934 a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. The Nepalese Army helped evacuate, and temporarily house thousands of people.
A huge fire broke out in Singha Darbar in 1971 AD, in which is located the Prime Minister's Office and many other important government offices. The Nepalese Army was called in to help control the fire. The fire was eventually put out saving a historical building and a trove of important documents.
In 1988, torrential rains washed away large portions of the Arniko Highway (the sole road link to China) in the 11 Km Lamosangu – Barhabise Road section. The Nepalese Army was mobilised to completely rebuild a 6 Km road section.
An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale occurred in Nepal with its epicenter in Udaypur on 21st August 1988. Sunsari, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Illam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Bhaktapur, Sindhuli, Dolakha and Ramechhap were affected. It left 722 dead, 1421 seriously wounded and 11000 injured. The Nepalese Army helped in evacuation, first aid, distribution of relief material and reconstruction.
On 5th Nov 1989, a passenger bus fell into the Trishuli River at Jogimara. The Army team was immediately dispatched to the site for recovery operations.
In 1993 torrential rainfall affected Taplejung, Panchthar, Sindhuli, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Makwanpur, Chitwan and Dhading. The Nepalese Army was mobilized and 3842 severely effected people were evacuated and another 201 people received medical treatment from the Army. The roads connecting Kathmandu to the rest of the country were washed away. The Army repaired the Thribhuvan and Prithivi highways. Combat engineers erected Bailey bridges over Malekhu and Belkhu. A diversion was built at Mahadevbesi.
The Nepalese Army pulled off a breathtaking aerial rescue operation on 15th May 1995, just above Camp 1 in Mt Everest that found a place in the record books. An American citizen, Sirbon B of the Swedish Everest expedition and Makalu Gab of the Chinese Taipei Everest Expedition were evacuated by a helicopter from an altitude of 19200 feet.
In November 1995, unusually heavy rainfall in Manang caused landslides and avalanches that stranded hundreds of people. The Army was mobilized and along with the helicopters of some other airlines, rescued 538 people. A further 48 dead bodies, 26 Nepalese and 22 foreign, were recovered.
On 13th October 1995, a passenger bus fell in the river some 10 Km to the West of Dipayal. The Nepalese Army team that reached the site managed to evacuate 22 passengers and helped in the recovery of the bus from the river.
In July 1996, torrential rainfall caused flooding of Sunsari, Biratnagar, Jhapa, Kaski, Sindhupalchok, Baglung and Lalitpur. The Army mobilized over 1000 rescue teams.
On 21st August 1998, a Twin Otter aircraft, 9N ACC, operated by Yeti Airlines was lost on the way to Pokhara from Jomsong. Aircraft and ground troops of the Nepalese Army were successfully mobilized to locate the aircraft.
On 25th December 1999, an aircraft with 12 people on board crached in Makwanpur. Army helicopters were mobilized to recover the dead bodies and hand them over to the families of the deceased.
In the monsoons of 2002, heavy rainfalls resulted in the flooding of vast areas of central and eastern Nepal. About 20 companies were mobilized for the relief effort, and in one instance in Ramechhap, the relief team had to advance through the insurgents then waging an armed struggle against the state.
In May 2007, the Army successfully recovered the bodies of 16 people buried by heavy snowfall in the extreme altitudes of Tyanke Lek in Dolpa.
In 2007, heavy rainfall resulted in wide spread floods and landslides in Taplejung, Jhapa, Bhojpur, Saptari, Mahottari, Dhanusa, Kathmandu, Gorkha, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Baglung, Gulmi, Dang, Salyan, Jajarkot, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, Baitadi and Darchula. Army ground and air assets consisting of 2885 personnel were mobilized. Over 10,000 people were rescued and provided medical treatment.
In August 2008, river Kosi eroded the Eastern dyke near Kusaha and spilled over to change its course of flow. In the resultant flood the Nepalese Army rescued 15,060 persons from the inundated areas. Of these 704 persons were rescued by helicopter and 356 were rescued by boat. As this book was being prepared, in September 2008, the Army was heavily mobilized in flood relief operations in the Far West region of the country.
In September 2008, the Army was heavily mobilized in flood relief operations in the Far- West region of the country.
In Jan 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. The Nepalese Peacekeepers deployed there were effectively mobilized in search and rescue, provided medical assistance, provided security and escort in distribution of relief materials and assisted in management of displaced people.