Tuesday 27 September 2016

Foreign countries, aid agencies race to reach Nepal quake victims

Nita Bhalla

Published 26/04/2015 | 20:50

Nepal earthquake
Nepal earthquake
AFTERMATH: Rescue workers carry a victim on a stretcher after the collapse of Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu. Photo: Omar Havana/Getty

International agencies and governments rushed on Sunday to send search and rescue teams, doctors and medicines to Nepal where an earthquake has killed more than 2,400 people and left tens of thousands without food, water or shelter.

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Teams from India, Pakistan, the United States, China and Israel were already on the spot to help, said the United Nations, as overwhelmed rescuers dug with their hands through the rubble to look for thousands still missing.

Rescuers look for victims under a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Rescuers look for victims under a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

Other international search teams have or are scheduled to arrive in the capital Kathmandu, with units from Japan, the United States and Britain equipped with sniffer dogs and equipment for heavy lifting.

At least 6,000 people have been injured, according to the government, and treating them and other survivors who are pulled from the wreckage remains a serious challenge.

Read more here: 'I used my hands as claws to dig out of what could have been my grave'  

"The priority remains saving lives and immediate search and rescue ongoing," said a report from the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal.

Volunteers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher, recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher, recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers work to remove debris at the historic Dharahara tower, a city landmark, after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake, the strongest since 1934 when a similar intensity quake killed 8,500 people, struck the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday noon local time.

There has been widespread damage and destruction of buildings, roads and other infrastructure, said aid workers, adding that more than 60 aftershocks, including a 6.7 magnitude quake on Sunday, had led to further devastation.

The first 96 hours after the quake was critical, they said.

Read more here: Google exec with lust for adventure killed in avalanche  

Volunteers work to remove debris at the historic Dharahara tower, a city landmark, after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers work to remove debris at the historic Dharahara tower, a city landmark, after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
People gather in an intersection near a damaged building in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa)

"It's already been over 24 hours. Every minute is precious for the people who are trapped under the rubble of buildings," said Unni Krishnan, head of disaster response and preparedness for Plan International.

"They are likely to be dehydrated, have breathing difficulties due to a lack of oxygen, injuries to head and spine and may be losing blood."

In Kathmandu Valley, hospitals are overcrowded and are running out of room for storing dead bodies, said aid workers, adding that hospitals were also running short of emergency supplies. Some are treating people in the streets.

Read more here: Quake overwhelms Nepal's weak healthcare system  

Climbers and guides carry an injured after an avalanche struck Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. An avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake in Nepal smashed into a base camp between the Khumbu Icefall, a notoriously treacherous rugged area of collapsed ice and snow, and the base camp where most climbing expeditions are, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. (AP Photo/Pasang Dawa Sherpa)
Climbers and guides carry an injured after an avalanche struck Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. An avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake in Nepal smashed into a base camp between the Khumbu Icefall, a notoriously treacherous rugged area of collapsed ice and snow, and the base camp where most climbing expeditions are, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. (AP Photo/Pasang Dawa Sherpa)
Rescuers clear the debris at Durbar Sqaure after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese man stands with his dog as rescue workers remove debris at Durbar Square after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
Volunteers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher, recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)
A school student receives treatment at a hospital after he was injured in an earthquake in Motihari, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Officials say dozens have been killed and more injured in India in a powerful earthquake that struck neighboring Nepal. (Press Trust of India via AP) INDIA OUT
Rescuers remove debris at the historic Dharahara tower, a city landmark, after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A strong magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley before noon Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings, officials said. (AP Photo/ Niranjan Shrestha)

As well as financial assistance and relief materials, Nepal has asked the international community for medical teams, supplies and tenting for hospitals, body bags, heavy equipment for removing rubble and helicopters to evacuate the injured.

ONE MILLION CHILDREN AFFECTED

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates at least 940,000 children have been severely affected in the area which includes Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Kathmandu districts.

"This crisis leaves children particularly vulnerable - limited access to safe water and sanitation will put children at great risk from waterborne diseases, while some children may have become separated from their families," UNICEF said.

Read more here: Terror of mountaineers stranded at Everest  

It has been difficult to assess the full scale of the disaster as many areas outside of Kathmandu are inaccessible due to damaged roads and landslides. Communications and electricity are intermittent.

Compounding the matter, aid workers say their staff and even those trained in disaster response were themselves traumatised by the disaster and series of aftershocks, with some seeing their family members dying and their property destroyed.

Read more here: Irish citizens trapped by quake  

Assessments and coordination between aid agencies led by the Nepali government are beginning to get underway and aid workers hoped to begin delivering emergency food rations, clean drinking water, blankets and tarpaulin sheets to survivors on Monday.

Relief camps are likely to be established in coming days.

"Hundreds of thousands are sleeping out in the open as they are too scared to go back in a building because of all the aftershocks," said Oxfam India's humanitarian manager Zubin Zaman.

"It is cold, it is dark and it is now raining. They have no protection, no shelter. We need to move quickly."

Read more here: 2,500 killed in Nepal earthquake

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