Nepal quake: Shortage of helicopters hinders rescue efforts outside capital
Published 28/04/2015 | 07:07
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.
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."