(3rd LD) S. Korea to send 40-member relief team to quake-hit Nepal
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with gov't announcement, details; MODIFIES headline)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Monday it will dispatch more than 40 search and rescue workers to the earthquake-hit Nepal amid reports that many victims are still under the rubble.
The first 10-member group from the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) will head to the Himalayan nation at around 9 p.m. on Monday, along with five government officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.
"Given the urgency of the search and rescue operation, we have decided to send part of the KDRT first," a ministry official told reporters. "Around 30 others search workers and medics will be sent on Friday, if possible."
The operation area and specific mission of the South Korean team will be decided through the United Nations, added the official.
The decision was made at a government-civilian meeting chaired by Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul.
It will be South Korea's 17th dispatch of a rescue team abroad, with the last time in 2013 to help the Philippines after being ravaged by a powerful typhoon.
South Korea has already pledged US$1 million in initial humanitarian aid for the Himalayan nation.
Thousands of people were reportedly killed by the 7.8-magnitude weekend quake, with foreign aid workers rushing there. Three South Koreans were also injured.
Citing continued aftershocks, the ministry advised South Koreans not to travel to Nepal and to leave the country if possible.
It elevated its travel warning level for the nation by one notch.
Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil, meanwhile, offered condolences to victims and promised $200,000 in assistance.
In a letter to Kathmandu Mayor Purna Bhakta Tandukar, Nam conveyed a message of sympathy to the Nepalese people on behalf of residents in his province. The capital city was the hardest-hit area.
Gyeonggi Province, situated next to Seoul, has maintained close ties with Nepal through the official development assistance (ODA) program.
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