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California search-and-rescue team heads to Nepal to help earthquake victims

A crew of California rescuers are headed to Kathmandu in Nepal to assist in emergency operations following Saturday’s devastating 7.8 earthquake.

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown authorized the deployment of the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2. The 57-member team, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is expected to arrive Monday in Nepal.

The crew, which operates under the state Office of Emergency Services, will be equipped with concrete cutters, search cameras and other gear to help locate victims in some of Nepal’s areas hardest hit by the earthquake and its aftershocks.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nepalese people and we are eager to get our world-class first responders on the ground to help those that are still being impacted by this terrible event,” Cal OES Director, Mark Ghilarducci, said in a prepared statement.

Cal OES said its Los Angeles-based emergency rescue team is one of eight California teams. All were put on alert for possible deployment within hours of the earthquake.

The state’s Urban Search and Rescue teams have been deployed to some of the world’s biggest recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States was sending $1 million in aid and disaster response teams to Nepal. The Red Cross has also launched an international relief effort to provide search and rescue, first aid and other emergency assistance in the wake of Nepal’s earthquake.

Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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