The world’s largest cargo plane left Belfast today, carrying three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators as part of the UK’s latest response to India’s Covid-19 crisis.
Airport staff worked through the night to load the life-saving kit, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), aboard the massive Antonov 124 aircraft.
Each of the three oxygen generation units – the size of 40ft freight containers – produces 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time. They are expected to reach India on Sunday morning, where the Indian Red Cross will help transfer them to hospitals.
It comes following discussions with India and a pledge from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK to do all it can to help. The latest assistance package has been sourced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and is fully funded by the FCDO.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:
Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann, was at Belfast International Airport to welcome the arrival of the plane last night and to see the three surplus oxygen generators supplied by the Department of Health (Northern Ireland) loaded onto the giant cargo plane. The offering by Northern Ireland’s health service is in addition to 1,000 ventilators offered by DHSC.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: