Nepal quake toll climbs to 4,355; India scales up relief operations

28 Apr 2015


Official estimates of the death toll in Nepal from the killer earthquake has now risen to 4,355, with another 61 killed in India and China's official Xinhua News Agency reporting 25 dead in Tibet, even as rescue workers found it difficult to cope with the magnitude of the disaster.

At least 18 of the dead were killed at Mount Everest as the quake unleashed an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing for summit attempts.

At least 7,000 people in capital Katmandu are known to have suffered injuries in Saturday's quake. Vast tent cities have sprung up in Kathmandu, for the displaced and those afraid to return to their homes in the wake of continuing aftershocks.

Several aftershocks have been reported - the latest on Monday night. Across the country, thousands are camping outside for the third night. There are shortages of water, food and electricity, and fears of outbreaks of disease.

Across central Nepal, including in Kathmandu, hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in the open without clean water or sanitation. It rained heavily in the city on Tuesday as well, forcing people to find shelter wherever they could.

Flights with emergency aid and helicopters with both foreign trekkers and local Nepalese villagers from quake-struck areas landed at Katmandu airport, increasing the pressure on relief agencies.

Helicopters chartered by trekking companies reached the Langtang area, about 40 miles north of Kathmandu, a popular trekking area. But it took almost three days for relief to arrive.

As of now, nine out of 10 Nepalese troops are reported to be involved in search and rescue operations, as the country pleads for more foreign aid to deal with a massive earthquake that is expected to have claimed the lives of over 10,000 people.

India, China, the UK and the US are among those in the forefront of rescue and relief operations as Nepal seeks everything from blankets and helicopters to doctors and drivers.

Medical and rescue teams from Russia, Japan, France, Switzerland and Singapore were expected in Kathmandu over the coming days, the Nepalese army said.

A United Nations spokesman on Monday said more than 1.4 million people affected by Saturday's devastating earthquake in Nepal are in need of food assistance.

Citing Nepalese government figures, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said a total of an estimated 8 million people had been affected by the magnitude-7.8 quake that hit 39 of Nepal's districts.

United Nations is reported to be releasing $15 million from its central emergency response fund for quake victims. The funds will allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water, medical supplies and logistical services.

The Indian Army today intensified its efforts and, operating in synergy with the IAF and NDRF, has been able to reach to far flung areas like Barpak, which is also the epicenter of the earthquake and is currently in the process of providing succor to the people in this area with an emphasis on saving precious lives.

Using ALH and Cheetah helicopters rescuers have been able to move to localities close to the epicenter of earthquake, thereby assisting in the overall evacuation effort.

Three field hospitals with 18 medical teams are operating in Kathmandu, Pokhara and areas around it. A 45-bed hospital has been established at Lagankhel. Medical resources of Nepalese authorities have been augmented by embedding own medical persons in civilian hopitals in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Medical support provided so far includes 65 surgeries, 540 trauma cases and over 2,000 first aid cases, according to Indian government figures.

Indian engineers have assisted Nepalese authorities to restore power in various parts of Kathmandu. A landslide at Narainpur has also been cleared by the Engineer Task Force on Monday to open a road axis.

India is sending an additional 10,000 blankets, 1,000 tents and an equal number of tarpaulins and plastic sheet over and above the 3,000 blankets and 100 tents dispatched so far.

Twelve INMARSAT and 10 high frequency communication sets have been sent to facilitate communication.

So far, 41 tonnes of water, 22 tonnes of cooked food and dry ration have been sent. Twenty-five food and water vehicles were diverted to Sindhupal Chowk in view of the critical situation there.

Gorkha soldiers of the Indian Army have been sent to various parts of Nepal to ascertain the requirements in remote places. An Army help desk has been established at Communications Centre, Sena Bhawan, New Delhi (01123011161).

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