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Local Firefighters Gear Up For Possible Rescue Mission In Nepal

LOS ANGELES (  —  Rescue teams from around the world are ready to converge on Nepal, the scene Saturday of a devastating Magnitude 7.8 quake that killed nearly 2,000 people.

A team of Southland firefighters has been alerted that they may be joining the rescue and recovery efforts.

Early news reports say people were killed in four different countries -- Nepal, Tibet, China and India.

Deadly avalanches are reported on the flanks of Mt. Everest from the quake, which hit at 11:11 p.m. California time Friday.

"Everybody's grabbing their gear. It (the notification) just means to stand by," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Brian Jordan. "They have not been ordered to respond."

Jordan said the California Task Force Two team is preparing for possible deployment at the county fire's Urban Search And Rescue Headquarters in the San Fernando Valley.

"We found people in collapsed buildings, and we try to rescue them, and then lend aid to them," LACFD Deputy Chief John Tripp said. "The infrastructure is usually very impacted with roads that are not clear for getting around. The structures are down. And then also you have a large civilian population that's been displaced."

The team is comprised of about 65 people, mostly from Los Angeles County, with at least one rescue dog handler from Santa Barbara County, said a Los Angeles County Fire dispatcher.

"It takes several hours to get ready to get deployed," he said.

Tripp and his crew are not strangers to getting to places that need help in a hurry.

"This team responded to Japan.  This team responded to New Zealand and when we went to Haiti with buildings that collapsed there were people found in void spaces," Tripp said.

A similar crew from Fairfax County, Virginia has also been put on alert, according to WUSA-TV, the CBS station in Washington, D.C.

Several Southland residents with ties to Nepal say they are worried for their family and friends.

"My friends show me that a seven-story building collapsed and he was taking dead bodies out of there. When I see that it was very sad, very hard," said Tara Gurung, owner of Tara's Himalayan Cuisine.

The Nepalese community is banding together at Tara's three Southern California restaurants to raise funds for the relief effort. Fifty percent of all proceeds for the next month will go towards aiding victims of this earthquake.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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