Life-saving supplies flown out to India from Northern Ireland

Life-saving supplies to help India battle its coronavirus surge have been flown out of Belfast on Friday morning.

Three oxygen generation units and 1,000 ventilators are being sent by the Department of Health to Delhi.

Staff at Belfast International Airport worked through the night to load 60 tonnes of life-saving kit, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, aboard the massive Antonov 124 aircraft. Each of the three oxygen generation units, housed in 40ft freight containers, are able to produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute - enough to treat 50 people at a time on ventilators.

The large plane arrived in Belfast late on Thursday night. Credit: UTV

The flight is due to depart later and will arrive in Delhi on Friday night. Health Minister Robin Swann said the scenes in India were heartbreaking and he was delighted to be able to offer supplies.

Health Minister Robin Swann at Belfast International Airport Credit: UTV

“The scenes coming out of India are a vivid reminder of the devastation this virus can cause and it shows no sign of abating," Mr Swann said.

"It is our moral duty to help and support where we can. Oxygen supply is under severe stress in India’s health system and the three oxygen generation units that we are sending today are each capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute.

"I sincerely hope this equipment goes some way to easing the pressure and pain the country is currently experiencing.”

The much-needed aid will arrive in India on Friday night. Credit: PressEye

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The situation in India is heart-breaking and we stand side by side with our friends as they face this immense challenge. “As we battle this global pandemic together, the vital equipment we are providing, including ventilators and oxygen generators, will help save lives and support India’s healthcare system.

“As one United Kingdom, we will continue to do all we can to help the Indian health authorities turn the tide on this dreadful virus.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added: “This life-saving equipment will support the country's hospitals as they care for vulnerable Covid patients. ”