The U.S. military is to send up to 500 troops to Nepal, as well as aircraft and equipment, in a bid to help deliver aid to victims of the earthquake that struck the country last week, which has become stuck in the country's main airport, according to reports.
The U.S. presence will include four vertical-takeoff Osprey aircraft, Army Chinook helicopters, C-130 cargo planes and forklift trucks, which aim to help manage the delivery of aid at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, which has been severely congested in the week since the earthquake, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In addition, U.S. officials were granted permission Saturday from Nepalese civil aviation authorities to assist air-traffic controllers in the country to manage flights, the paper reported.
A detachment of troops and aircraft were expected to arrive in Nepal on Sunday, after being delayed by at least a day. The delay was not related to congestion at the airport, but a variety of factors involved in mobilizing forces stationed in Guam, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, a U.S. official said.
“We are bringing in significant capacity,” Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander, told Stars And Stripes Friday.
One week after the most powerful earthquake in decades struck Nepal, much of the international aid that has been sent to the country has been slow to reach its intended recipients, and has not reached many of the affected areas at all.
United Nations officials said Saturday that they are increasingly worried about the spread of disease, and said that more helicopters were needed to reach isolated mountain villages, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The Nepalese government said Sunday that the official death toll from the quake had risen to 7,040 people. A spokesman added that hopes of finding survivors had diminished significantly in recent days.