Quake-aid need acute in capital, villages
Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal’s earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families’ needs. In much of the countryside, it was worse, though how much worse was only beginning to become apparent.
The death toll soared past 4,000, even without a full accounting from vulnerable mountain villages that rescue workers were still struggling to reach two days after the disaster.
Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district, where Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 quake was centered, said he was in desperate need of help.
Aid group World Vision said its staff members were able to reach Gorkha, but gathering information from the villages remained a challenge. Even when roads are clear, the group said, some remote areas can be three days’ walk from Gorkha’s main disaster center.
Some roads and trails have been blocked by landslides, the group said in an email to The Associated Press. “In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment.”
Timalsina said 223 people had been confirmed dead in Gorkha district but he presumed “the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured.” He said his district had not received enough help from the central government, but Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue operations.
He said the recovery was also being slowed because many workers — water tanker drivers, electricity company employees and laborers needed to clear debris — “are all gone to their families and staying with them, refusing to work.”
As people are pulled from the wreckage, he noted, even more help is needed. “Now we especially need orthopedic (doctors), nerve specialists, anesthetists, surgeons and paramedics,” he said. “We are appealing to foreign governments to send these specialized and smart teams.”
More than 6,300 people were injured in the quake, he said, estimating that tens of thousands of people had been left homeless. “We have been under severe stress and pressure, and have not been able to reach the people who need help on time,” he said.
Nepal police said in a statement that the country’s death toll had risen to 4,000 people. That does not include the 18 people killed in the avalanche, which were counted by the mountaineering association. Another 61 people were killed in neighboring India, and China reported 20 people dead in Tibet.
Global Helps Pours in
The U. N. food agency said Monday it was preparing a largescale aid operation to earthquakeravaged Nepal, with a first plane set to arrive Tuesday.
The United Nations is gearing up to launch an emergency appeal for aid for the region.
WFP experts arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday to evaluate the needs, and the agency estimates shelter and medical equipment should be the first priority.
The World Health Organization said Monday it had already distributed medical supplies to cover the health needs of more than 40,000 people for three months in the country.
But with food also expected to quickly run scarce, the U.N. agency has “mobilized all of our food stocks in the region,” Byrs said.
WFP is loading a plane with rations of food that does not require cooking in Dubai, and Byrs said it would likely arrive in Nepal Tuesday.
WFP experts are meanwhile pouring over satellite images to estimate how many people have been affected by the disaster, Byrs said.
She said the worst-hit area was in “an agricultural zone that is home to between two and three million people.”
UNICEF cautioned that the thousands of children camping out in the open in the capital Kathmandu were particularly at risk of disease.
UNICEF said it was mobilizing staff and sending two cargo flights with 120 tonnes of humanitarian supplies, including medical and hospital supplies, tents and blankets.
The Asian Development Bank announced a US$ 3 million (NT$91.73 million) grant to Nepal Monday to help provide desperately needed tents, medicine, food and water.
Spain’s government planned to send a chartered jet to Nepal loaded with tons of donated aid from the government and charities, including material to build water storage distribution points and latrines, tarps for shelters plus blankets and cooking sets for more than 500 families.
Mariona Minet of Spain’s Oxfam Intermon said many people are still frightened and sleeping on the streets, in part because of aftershocks.
A British Royal Air Force plane loaded with aid was also expected to arrive in Nepal Monday.
1. In this photo provided by World Vision, houses lie destroyed by Saturday’s earthquake at Paslang village in Gorkha municipality, Nepal on Monday, April 27. 2. An Indian Air Force member walks carrying a Nepalese child wounded in Saturday’s earthquake to a waiting ambulance as the mother rushes to join after they were evacuated from a remote area at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal on Monday. 3. In this photo provided by Azim Afif, a helicopter prepares to rescue people from camp 1 and 2 at Everest Base Camp, Nepal on Monday. 4. Indian residents rest and sleep in a soccer field in Siliguri on Sunday, April 26.