More reports on: Environment

Nepal says no more rescue teams needed; quake toll tops 6,000

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29 April 2015

Nepal has finally come to grips with earthquake relief and is reported to have asked aid agencies to stop sending rescue workers to look for survivors as the government and the military could cope, even as the toll from Saturday's disaster has now topped 6,000.

Nepal's deputy prime minister Bam Dev Gautam said over 6,000 bodies have so far been pulled out from under mounds of debris and rubble left by razed homes and buildings in Saturday's 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had yesterday said the toll could reach 10,000 because information from the affected remote villages is yet to come.

More than 11,000 people have been injured in the quake, the worst in over 80 years.

The Nepalese government and military informed aid agencies at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon that those rescue and medical teams that are "in the air or just landed can come and help, but if they are on a runway in their home country waiting to take off, then we are telling them not to come."

And, with the search now shifting to more remote areas, there is no need for international teams with heavy lifting gear because many homes are made from mud or wood, said another aid official.

But the quake-hit people are angry that aid has been slow. Five days after the quake struck, the first aid shipments reached a hilly district near the epicentre of Nepal's earthquake today, a UN food agency official said.

The first aid shipments had reached Dhading district, just east of Gorhka, on Tuesday night, UN aid agencies said adding that distribution of food and medicine would start today.

Aid agencies said it would still take time for aid to reach survivors in some remote communities who have been cut off by landslides. Truckloads of rice, cooking oil and sugar are waiting for helicopters to carry the supplies to remote, quake-hit villages.

It is not aid but the logistics that is holding up rescue and relief, say aid agencies.

Meanwhile, protests greeted Prime Minister Koirala in relief camps as anger spilled over to the streets with people seizing food and water supplies, four days after a devastating quake claimed over 6,000 lives.

People vent their anger when Koirala visited their camps to assess relief work and complained that they were not getting any aid.

The UN says the disaster has affected 8.1 million people, more than a fourth of Nepal's population of 27.8 million and that 1.4 million needed food assistance.

''Under normal circumstances, a government would have the capacity to respond to maybe 10, or 20, or 30,000 people in need. But if you're looking at 8 million as we are here, you need a bit of time to scale everything up,'' said a UN aid official.

Thousands of people have lined up at bus stations in Kathmandu, hoping to reach their hometowns in rural areas. Some have had little news of family and loved ones since Saturday's quake. Others are scared of staying close to the epicentre, northwest of Kathmandu.

Meanwhile, more tragedy stuck on Tuesday after mudslides and avalanche struck near the village of Ghodatabela and 250 people were feared missing. Heavy snow had been falling, and the ground may have been loosened by the quake.

While many across Nepal are opting to sleep outdoors for fear of the constant aftershocks, those in areas like Paslang have no choice because almost no buildings are left standing.





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