Two civil engineers flew to Nepal last month to aid the search and rescue effort following the catastrophic earthquake which struck on 25 April.
Former Aecom senior structural engineer Josh Macabuag, who is studying for an engineering doctorate at University College London, and Atkins senior geotechnical engineer Mark Scorer, were part of a 15-strong team that travelled to Kathmandu.
The team was put together by charity Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters (Saraid). Members have been training in urban search and rescue techniques for one day a month for a year and a half.
It took more than 1t of specialist equipment to help the team locate and help people trapped under collapsed buildings.
The earthquake, measuring 7.8 magnitude, struck the mountainous country on Saturday 25 April.
The Red Cross said millions of people could be affected, across a 100km area. Rain and landslides threatened to bring further misery.
Saraid UK co-ordinator Jules Tipler said Macabuag and Scorer had a special role, assessing collapsed structures before search teams could enter them.
“They are trained to crawl under collapsed buildings and it is likely they will get involved in searches,” he said.
“But they will also help shore up damaged buildings on the fly to make them as safe as possible to go into and search for survivors.”
The charity is sponsored by equipment manufacturer Makita and took power tools including heavy duty drills and chainsaws to Nepal.
The trip, due to last for about two weeks, is likely to have been taken as annual or unpaid leave by most of the volunteers.
“They do this because they want to give something back, and apply their skills to help others,” said Tipler.
“They will be active every day they are out there, being deployed as needed by the United Nations.”
He urged more engineers to join Saraid. “We have a team of 30 people, and all those who are able to go on this trip have done so,” said Tipler. “If we had more members, we could send more people.
“We welcome applications from engineers, who are problem solvers by nature. Whether it is getting heavy cargo onto an aircraft or assessing buildings for safety, engineers can apply their skills, and that’s why they are invaluable.”
- All the trips and training are funded by donations. You can give to the Nepal deployment online at campaign.justgiving.com/charity/saraid/nepalearthquake.
Major relief effort underway
Other charities providing vital engineering support to communities in Nepal have appealed to the sector for support and donations.
With the death toll increasing since the earthquake struck on 25 April, the immediate work has been focused on search and rescue.
RedR said its India arm had already deployed members with specialist engineering skills. It was also conducting an emergency needs assessment to develop and deliver a longer-term response.
RedR asked engineering firms with a presence in Nepal to get in touch if they think they can help.
It is also currently seeking donations to help it establish the most urgent shelter, water, medical, rebuilding and structural engineering needs. Donations can be made online.
Care International is also appealing to the engineering community for support and donations. It also sends engineers to disaster zones to carry out relief and rebuilding work. Donations can also be made online.