Rescue team from Dubai flies to tsunami-hit areas

DUBAI — A search and rescue team from Dubai flew last night to Indonesia as part of a delegation from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Foundation to assist in the search and rescue operations in the areas hit by the earthquake.

By Sanaa Maadad, Meraj Rizvi, Ramona Ruiz, Zaigham Ali Mirza And Prerna Suri

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Published: Tue 28 Dec 2004, 11:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:03 AM

The delegation was sent on the instructions of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Minister of Defence, said Ibrahim bu Melha, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Justice Department and Vice-Chairman of the foundation's Board of Trustees.

The team will stay in Indonesia for one week. The foundation's delegation comprised 25 rescue and search personnel from Dubai Police in addition to relief officials and media persons, Abdul Rehman bin Sobeih, Director General of the foundtion and head of the delegation told Khaleej Times last evening before departing on the humanitarian mission.

“We will be the first foreign delegation offering relief services to the disaster hit areas in Indonesia,” Bin Sobeih commented.

He explained that the flight was not carrying any relief items, but a rescue and search team. “We received information that there is a shortage in the number of rescuers and in the rescue equipment, so we sought the assistance of Dubai Police in providing us with the required manpower and equipment,”he said.

The main objective of the delegation is to offer search and rescue services in the first 100 hours that follow any natural disaster and then evaluating the situation to determine what items and goods are required for relief purposes. “When those requirements are specified we will purchase them from the local markets in Indonesia,” Bin Sobeih said, noting that no specific budget had yet been allocated for the rescue and relief operations to be conducted by the foundation.

The UAE based government body, Dubai Aid City (DAC), has embarked upon a strategic preparedness plan and is gearing up to facilitate aid to the areas hit by the disastrous Asian earthquake, Barbara Castek, DAC Head told Khaleej Times yesterday.

The recently launched DAC has assumed the role of facilitator for the benefit of international, regional and local humanitarian and development organisations and the people in need of aid.

DAC is working closely with the UAE Red Crescent Society to find ways of delivering the shipment of emergency supplies to the affected areas. 'This is one of the biggest global tragedies to have hit mankind and we need to take some quick disaster control actions. I urge more people to come forward and support this initiative,' Castek said.

'The focus for groups in the region has moved to the humanitarian phase, sending relief supplies and finding shelter for survivors, and not a rescue effort. Our department for emergency preparedness and emergency response is working closely with these agencies to cater to such requirements,' she added.

Dubai Aid City has set up a collection centre for donations to be made in cash or cheque at the second floor at Al Attar Business Tower on Shaikh Zayed Road. The donations will be used for providing water, new and clean clothes, blankets, tents and energy biscuits that will be sent to the affected areas by the UAE Red Crescent Society.

'Dubai UNICEF has been mobilised to support relief efforts locally and in the region, said Omar Shehadeh, from UNICEF Dubai office. “We are establishing a hub in co-operation with Dubai Aid City, which will help in facilitating our efforts to get across the emergency medical supplies to the needy. These include the US$ 1,620 'Emergency Health Supply Kit', each of which is sufficient for 50 individuals,' he added.

Meanwhile, diplomatic missions and various organisations in the UAE have organised relief operations.

The Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai which met with its community representatives yesterday, has urged the Lankan community to donate food and medicines generously for the victims of the Tidal Wave.

“We urgently need food items including lentils, sugar, wheat , milk powder and rice, as well as large quantity of water purification tablets to facilitate speedy relief to the victims in the affected areas in Sri Lanka,” said P.D Fernando, hoping to despatch the first relief aid container for Colombo tonight (Dec 28).

Most areas that are affected are predominantly Muslim dominated towns and villages, said Fernando, pointing out that the worst affected villages include Amtara, Trincomalee, Batitoloa, Mutur, Galle, Matara, Tangalle and Ambantota among others.

The Consulate is making all necessary arrangements at its office in Dubai to help the families of those affected by the disaster in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Tourist board is keeping all foreign missions based in Colombo fully informed to facilitate speedy responses to enquiries on the whereabouts of foreign guests. Information regarding tourists in the island's coastal belt is being provided around the clock on the hotline number. 0094112437061.

The Sri Lanka Tourist Board has therefore requested all foreign visitors to postpone their travelling plans with immediate effect, due to an influx of tourists from neighbouring countries affected by the tidal waves for emergency accommodation.


Various associations and individuals in Dubai are joining hands to send aid to India. K. Kumar, President of the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC), told Khaleej Times from Chennai, India, that the flooding had caused an immense amount of damage to property and human life.

“ The situation here is extremely deplorable as a lot of fishermen are still missing and a huge number of apartment blocks on the beach have been flooded,” he said.

“The Valley of Love”, a Dubai based non-profit organisation, is appealing for medicines and medical equipment to be sent to the Southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the worst hit areas of the disaster.

“We are mainly concentrating on collecting essential medical supplies such as antibiotics, painkillers, syringes, penicilin and anti-diahhorea medicines,” said Dr Jaladharan, one of the volunteers. “We have received a good response from doctors who have been contributing with their samples but we need a lot more.”

Various individuals are also collecting relief materials such as blankets, canned food, clothes and medicines to be sent to the afflicted countries. “A shipload of relief material is being sent to India and we urge many more individuals to come forward and help us by donating anything that they may have,” said E.S.Ramesh, a volunteer. He can be contacted on 050- 4544320.

Thailand and Philippines

The Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi has coordinated with its foreign affairs ministry in Bangkok in the wake of the powerful earthquake and resultant tsunamis in various parts of Asia.

Somsakdi Suriwawongse, Ambassador of the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times: “Till date, there were no reports of stranded UAE nationals and expatriates from the UAE in the western part of Phuket. December is not a season for UAE nationals to visit Thailand.”

Suriwawongse said that a number of humanitarian organisations in the UAE have enquired from the Thai Embassy on how they can provide assistance to the Thai nationals. “Thailand has been the least hit compared to other countries, but we thank all those concerned. We have been constantly in touch with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok which has already instructed diplomatic representatives in Phuket to lend assistance to people and provide immediate relief.”

Philippine Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, said that the embassy in Abu Dhabi has not received an official report from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding Filipino workers and tourists who may have been affected by the disaster.


Meanwhile, Malaysian Airlines and the hotel and tourism authorities in Malaysia have issued a joint statement yesterday to inform business travellers and tourists that it is “business as usual” in Penang.

The statement read: “The impact of tsunami phenomena that struck Penang's tourism belt of Batu Ferringhi, on Sunday, December 26, was minimal as MAH Penang Chapter (Malaysian Association Of Hotels) reported that there is no damage to hotels and their surrounding areas and facilities, except to the beach front that is now undergoing cleaning up of debris which is expected to take a couple of days. There are no casualties of foreign tourists reported. The situation is back to normal as, all hotels are operating as usual while tourist attractions are not affected. Fortunately, it's business as usual in Penang.”

Malaysian Airlines, Penang Tourism Action Council (PTAC), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), and Malaysia Association of Tour & Travel (MATTA) were the signatories of the joint statement.

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