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Nepal shuts air­port to big jets; more bod­ies found

- By Bi­naj Gu­rubacharya As­so­ci­ated Press

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Run­way dam­age forced Nepalese au­thor­i­ties to close the main air­port Sun­day to large air­craft de­liv­er­ing aid to mil­lions of peo­ple fol­low­ing the mas­sive earth­quake, but U.N. of­fi­cials said the over­all lo­gis­tics sit­u­a­tion was im­prov­ing.

The death toll climbed to 7,250, in­clud­ing six for­eign­ers and 45 Nepalese found over the week­end on a popular trekking route, said gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor Gau­tam Ri­mal. Nepal’s Tourist Po­lice re­ported 57 for­eign­ers have been killed in the April 25 quake, and 109 are still miss­ing, in­clud­ing 12 Rus­sians and nine Amer­i­cans.

The main run­way was built to han­dle only medium-size jet­lin­ers, not the large mil­i­tary and cargo planes that have been fly­ing in aid sup­plies, food, medicines, and res­cue and hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers, said Biren­dra Shrestha, the manager of Tribhuwan In­ter­na­tional Air­port, on the out­skirts of Kathmandu. There have been re­ports of cracks on the run­way and other prob- lems at the only air­port ca­pa­ble of han­dling jet­lin­ers

“You’ve got one run­way, and you’ve got limited han­dling fa­cil­i­ties, and you’ve got the on­go­ing com­mer­cial flights,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. co­or­di­na­tor for Nepal. “You put on top of that mas­sive re­lief items com­ing in, the search and res­cue teams that has clogged up this air­port.”

He said the bot­tle­necks in aid de­liv­ery were slowly dis­ap­pear­ing, and the Nepalese gov­ern­ment eased cus­toms and other bu­reau­cratic hur­dles on hu­man­i­tar­ian aid fol­low­ing com­plaints from the U.N.

Air­port con­ges­tion was only the lat­est com­pli­ca­tion in the global ef­fort to aid peo­ple in the wake of the quake, the im­pov­er­ished coun­try’s big­gest and most de­struc­tive in eight decades.

Nepal’s geog­ra­phy of high moun­tains and dif­fi­cult road net­works “is al­ways go­ing to be a chal­lenge,” McGoldrick said. Air­lift­ing goods by he­li­copter “right now is quite limited,” he said.

Peo­ple in Nepal have com­plained about not see­ing any res­cue work­ers or in­ter­na­tional aid and about a lack of tem­po­rary shel- ters, with many sleep­ing out in the open be­cause of fears of af­ter­shocks.

U.N. hu­man­i­tar­ian of­fi­cials said that they were wor­ried about the spread of dis­ease. They said more he­li­copters were needed to reach iso­lated moun­tain vil­lages hard to ac­cess even be­fore the quake.

The true ex­tent of the dam­age from the earth­quake is still un­known as re­ports keep fil­ter­ing in from re­mote ar­eas, some of which re­main en­tirely cut off. The U.N. says the quake af­fected 8.1 mil­lion peo­ple — more than a quar­ter of Nepal’s 28 mil­lion peo­ple.

Laxi Dhakal, a Home Min­istry of­fi­cial, said hopes of find­ing sur­vivors had faded dramatical­ly.

Among the lat­est fa­tal­i­ties to be counted were the 51 peo­ple, in­clud­ing six for­eign­ers, whose re­mains were found in the Lang­tang Val­ley in Ra­suwa dis­trict, nearly 35 miles north of Kathmandu. Most of the vic­tims were Nepalese guides, ho­tel own­ers, work­ers and porters.

The area, with a dozen inns near the trekking trail, was buried by a land­slide af­ter the earth­quake. Nepal has been shaken by more than 70 af­ter­shocks fol­low­ing the quake.

 ?? CHRIS MCGRATH/GETTY-AFP ?? Res­i­dents of Me­lam­chi chase af­ter a truck giv­ing out noodles and wa­ter Sun­day in Nepal. One U.N. of­fi­cial said the bot­tle­necks in aid de­liv­ery were slowly dis­ap­pear­ing,
CHRIS MCGRATH/GETTY-AFP Res­i­dents of Me­lam­chi chase af­ter a truck giv­ing out noodles and wa­ter Sun­day in Nepal. One U.N. of­fi­cial said the bot­tle­necks in aid de­liv­ery were slowly dis­ap­pear­ing,

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