December 30, 15:44 PM

Salam's Humanitarian Mission Leaves For Bam Tuesday

READY TO SERVE... A five-member team, led by volunteer Captain K. Balasupramaniam (second, left) from Yayasan Salam Malaysia (SALAM) and the Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (MVFRA) will be leaving on a humanitarian mission for the quake-hit city of Bam in Iran. Seen here are other members (from left) Volunteers Lt. Kody Munyiandi, Lt. Lim Sim Wei, Const. Ramakrishnan Ramasamy and Lans-Corp Noor Amali Mahat.

PETALING JAYA, Dec 30 (Bernama) -- Five volunteers, including Mount Everest climber Ramakrishnan Ramasamy who lost a finger to frost bites, will leave for the winter-stricken city of Bam in Iran Tuesday on a humanitarian mission to help the earthquake victims.

"I have the experience in handling high angle climbing equipment and dealing with the harsh cold climate, like in the Everest. Although it is also cold in Bam we don't know what to expect," he told Bernama after a media conference to announce the departure of the joint Yayasan Salam Malaysia (Salam) and the Malaysia Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association - another non-governmental organisation established 13 years ago.

A member of Salam's board of trustees, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, said this was the first phase of their mission to Bam, which was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale on Friday, killing about 20,000 people and injuring 30,000 others in the ancient city.

"In the first phase they will help in recovery and offer immediate assistance to victims. It includes recovery, assessment and networking. When they return, the proper relief work will begin," said Saifuddin, who is also the Youth Academy Chairman.

Asked if the team, scheduled to leave the KL International Airport (KLIA) at 8.30pm, could meet with the same fate as the SMART team Monday, when its flight to Bam was cancelled at the eleventh hour, he said the team should not face any obstacles.

"Ours is a commerical flight and we have informed Wisma Putra. This is a rakyat's humanitarian mission and not related to the Government. Being a democratic country, anyone who is committed can volunteer to go," he explained.

The team, comprising an emergency medic, operations chief, technical officer, rescue technician and a high angle operation officer, is expected to arrive in Teheran on Dec 31 and return on Jan 7.

Upon landing they will touch base with the Incident Command Centre and network with other international relief agencies to recce the city devastated by the earthquake.


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