Saturday 1 October 2016

Nepal quake: Shortage of helicopters hinders rescue efforts outside capital

Jason O'Brien in Kathmandu

Published 28/04/2015 | 07:07

The Mount Everest south base camp in Nepal is seen a day after a huge earthquake-caused avalanche killed at least 17 people, in this photo courtesy of 6summitschallenge.com taken on April 26, 2015 and released on April 27, 2015. REUTERS/6summitschallenge.com
The Mount Everest south base camp in Nepal is seen a day after a huge earthquake-caused avalanche killed at least 17 people, in this photo courtesy of 6summitschallenge.com taken on April 26, 2015 and released on April 27, 2015. REUTERS/6summitschallenge.com
A Nepalese boy talks on a mobile phone near a damaged minaret of a mosque in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Tourists from Vietnam access the Internet from their mobile phones while waiting for their flight at Tribhuvan International Airport after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
National Disaster Response Force from Indian paramilitary force works to recover the dead bodies from a collapsed house after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Tourists stand in front of the Departure gate of Tribhuvan International Airport as they wait for their flight after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
An Indian woman cries as she waits to take a flight back to her country after an earthquake at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A girl cries as her family takes refuge at Tribhuvan International Airport after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Tourists wait to board their flights at Tribhuvan International Airport after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Tourists wait to board their flights at Tribhuvan International Airport after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A tourist from the Netherlands waiting for her flight sleeps in a sleeping bag at Tribhuvan International Airport after returning from the Everest Base in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
An Australian tourist reads a book as she waits for her flight at Tribhuvan International Airport after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
People sleep on the ground in an open area on early morning after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
An earthquake victim carries her baby on her back as she stands outside her makeshift shelter on open ground in the early hours in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A man prays next to rubble of a temple, destroyed in Saturday's earthquake, in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A prayer bell is seen on top of the rubble of a damaged temple after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Royal Thai Air Force personnel load food and relief supplies for Nepal at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Thai Armed Forces medical team walk to a C-130 cargo plane at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, April 28, 2015. The Royal Thai Armed Forces sent 67 medical and rescue personnel to assist the earthquake victims in Nepal, according to The Royal Thai Armed Forces authorities. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Thai Armed Forces rescue team prepare to board a C-130 cargo plane at the military airport in Bangkok, Thailand, April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
People sleep inside a makeshift shelter on open ground, early morning after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
In this April 27, 2015 photo, locals watch rescue teams try to remove the body of a 12-year-old girl from a collapsed home in Kathmandu, Nepal. A strong earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
People sit on the rubble of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal in this Red Cross handout picture taken on April 27, 2015. REUTERS/IFRC/Palani Mohan/Handout via Reuters
In this April 27, 2015 photo, rescue teams search for bodies in the collapsed Sitapyla church in Kathmandu, Nepal. A strong earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
An earthquake victim carries her baby on her back as she stands outside her makeshift shelter on open ground in the early hours in Kathmandu, Nepal April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Tents are set up in an open area near multi-storey buildings following an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal in this Red Cross handout picture taken on April 27, 2015. REUTERS/IFRC/Palani Mohan/Handout via Reuters
People gather on a road as traffic is affected by a landslide caused by an earthquake, in Kurintar, Nepal April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
The Mount Everest south base camp in Nepal is seen a day after a huge earthquake-caused avalanche killed at least 17 people, in this photo courtesy of 6summitschallenge.com taken on April 26, 2015 and released on April 27, 2015. REUTERS/6summitschallenge.com
Video taken from a drone Saturday April 25 2015 shows devastation in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, caused by Saturday's quake that measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale. (AP Photo / KISHNOR RANA)
Nepalese carry the body of their relative killed in the recent earthquake for cremation at the Pashupatinath temple, on the banks of Bagmati river, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo / Manish Swarup)
Nepalese people affected by the recent earthquake queue to receive food from a non governmental organization, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo / Manish Swarup)
Nepalese soldiers carry a wounded man on a makeshift stretcher to a waiting Indian air force helicopter as they evacuate victims of Saturdays earthquake from Trishuli Bazar to Kathmandu airport in Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Some 72 hours after the devastating earthquake hit Nepal, rescue workers, search teams and NGOs are flooding into the country - while the number of confirmed deaths continues to grow.

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The home ministry in Kathmandu this morning put the death toll at 4,310, with a further 7,953 confirmed injured.

However, the focus of the newly-arrived rescue crews will be outside the capital.

Initial reports back from intrepid relief workers who have managed to reach towns such as Gorkha and Lamjung are that the quake devastated these areas - with up to 90pc of buildings knocked.

In Sindhupalchowk, about a three-hour drive northeast of Kathmandu, the death toll had reached 875 people and was expected to rise. In Dhading, close to the quake's epicentre west of Kathmandu, 241 people were killed.

But with most of the roads remaining impassable - and the majority of the country's helicopters commandeered to rescue climbers off Everest - reports and statistics are sketchy. More importantly, time is rapidly running out for those who may be trapped, seriously injured or running short of supplies in these towns.

"There's a massive aid operation mobilising but this area is very hard to access," Darren Hanniffy of the Irish aid agency GOAL told Independent.ie

"When we landed into the airport in the last 24 hours we saw the number of helicopters on the landing strip because it is so difficult to get around some of these areas.

"This is a major problem."

And people's ire is increasingly turning on the Nepali government - and a perceived lack of leadership.

Sick and wounded people continue to lie out in the open, unable to find beds in the devastated city's hospitals. Surgeons set up an operating theatre inside a tent in the grounds of Kathmandu Medical College, for example.

And tens of thousands of people slept rough for a third night in a row in the capital last night - preferring to navigate the ongoing aftershocks in the open, rather than risk remaining indoors.

"It is three days now and we have not seen a government official, or had any help," Rajkumar Bharat, a father-of-two, said this morning.

"We are sleeping in the middle of the capital city, under a plastic sheet. We have no help. For those in the countryside, we think it is maybe even worse."

However, despite the unorthodox sleeping conditions, the capital city is returning to some semblance of normality today - with more shops opening, and lengthy queues for fuel at petrol stations as people return to daily business.

"People only see Kathmandu and not the outside," one relief worker said. "We have to get out to help there."

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