Three Koreans injured in Nepal’s earthquake

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Three Koreans injured in Nepal’s earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the Korean government announced it will send an emergency response team of 40 search and rescue workers to the country and also pledged $1 million in humanitarian aid.

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said the first 10 rescue workers will be from the Korea Disaster Response Team, accompanied by a five-member advance team to determine the logistics of the situation in Nepal. It offered in a statement “deep condolences” to the country’s government and people.

According to a ministry official, the remaining 30 members of the disaster response team will be dispatched to Nepal next Monday and will cooperate with the ongoing United Nations rescue efforts. The government will also mull dispatching medical workers to the scene if needed.

Three Korean nationals were confirmed to be injured so far in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday that killed over 3,300 people and injured thousands more, the worst quake disaster in Nepal in 80 years.

The ministry confirmed Sunday that a Korean couple in their 50s was injured by falling rocks in northern Kathmandu, the capital of the country. The husband was seriously injured, while the wife suffered minor injuries. They are tourists.

A Korean employee of a hydroelectric power plant construction project in a region 70 kilometers north of Kathmandu also suffered minor injuries.

Around 650 Koreans currently live in Nepal, according to the Foreign Ministry. Some 800 to 1,000 are believed to be traveling in the country, a tourist destination popular for its trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

Immediately following the earthquake, the Korean government started an emergency response center in Kathmandu to check on the safety of its citizens, especially amid concerns about continuing aftershocks.

A group of 31 people from Gyeonggi province trekking Kala Patthar, popular for its views of Mount Everest, were confirmed to be safe by the Gyeonggi provincial government’s situation room on Monday. The group was comprised of 24 middle-aged women and their support staff. They began the trek on April 20 and planned to continue for 15 days. After the quake, they were transported to Lukla, northeastern Nepal, where they will schedule a return to Korea.

Likewise, a group of 44 students and four teachers from Taebong High School in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, who were on a field trip in Nepal, were all confirmed to be safe. The group had been traveling across the country for a 17-day trip from April 16. They were in Pokhara, 200 kilometers west of the capital, when the earthquake struck. They are expected to depart Friday as planned.

The government on Monday held meetings involving relevant government agencies including the Foreign Ministry, Health and Welfare Ministry and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) to discuss aid efforts. Another governmental-civilian meeting was held in the afternoon, presided over by Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul.

President Park Geun-hye also offered personal condolences in a letter to Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav on Monday, according to the Blue House. “Learning the news of the large earthquake near Kathmandu that led to many deaths, our citizens and I feel very sorrowful and heartbroken,” Park said in the letter.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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