By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 – Despite the magnitude-7.3 earthquake aftershock today, the Defense Department continues to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response to the people of Nepal, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told Pentagon reporters.
“Today, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck the Dolahka district in the central region of Nepal, approximately 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu,” he said.
The U.S. Geological Survey considers this to be the largest of more than 100 aftershocks that followed the magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 25, Warren said.
The colonel said members of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster assistance response team, including urban search and rescue personnel, in coordination with the U.S. military’s Joint Task Force 505, are conducting aerial assessments of Dolahka and the surrounding areas to view the extent of recent damage.
The department has committed approximately $7.5 million to this effort of the $10 million Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved in Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid funds, Warren said.
He also confirmed the international airport in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu remains open and that all DoD personnel who are present in the region “have been accounted for and are safe.”
Warren provided an update to reporters on Operation Sahayogi Haat -- Nepalese for “helping hand,” –- the name given to U.S. military efforts in the region.
More than 300 U.S. military personnel are now in Kathmandu supporting the operation, he said.
500-plus Flight Hours
Warren noted that in addition to the personnel response, there have been more than 515 hours of flight time logged, 480 tons of aid delivered and 993 civilians transported during the operation.
“This is all headquartered at III [Marine Expeditionary Force],” he added. “We’ve got three [UH-1Y] Huey’s, four Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys, two Marine Corps KC-130 Hercules, and four Air Force C-17 Globemasters.”
“We have established an intermediate staging base in Utapao, Thailand,” Warren said. “We’ve got approximately 270 personnel there, so that is how we’re flowing these heavy-lift ‘birds’ through.”
At this point there are no plans for additional personnel, but the situation is under constant assessment, he said.