International rescue and relief teams are converging on Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, even as hopes fade that more survivors will be found in the aftermath of a massive quake Saturday that has claimed more than 3,700 lives.
The capital’s airport was so congested with military planes attempting to land that a flight carrying 70 members of Japan’s national search-and-rescue team circled futilely and eventually had to be rerouted to Kolkata for refueling.
The quake triggered a deadly avalanche on Nepal’s Mount Everest.The quake triggered a deadly avalanche on Nepal’s Mount Everest.
The crew has been warned to expect a “chaotic situation” at Kathmandu’s airport, where a control tower was evacuated during aftershocks and where people trying to leave the country have crowded the facility.
The U.S. Geological Survey expects further moderate tremors in the area this week. Ongoing aftershocks pushed Kathmandu residents to sleep in the streets for a second night Sunday, fearing further structural collapse. Some huddle under tents, tarps or other improvised shelters.
Huge tented camps are springing up in Nepal’s main towns, but similar assistance has yet to reach remote areas.
More than 48 hours after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook Nepal, rescue teams are scrambling to reach those who need aid, amid looming fears of epidemics and mounting shortages of food and water.
Nepal’s chief secretary, Lila Mani Poudyal, appealed again for urgent help from the international community, saying they need everything from dry goods to tents and paramedics to expert teams to cope with the aftermath.
Citing Nepali government sources, the United Nations said 35 of the country’s 75 districts are affected. Some 30 million people live in Nepal.
UNICEF says nearly 1 million children need the agency’s assistance.
It is the worst disaster in living memory for most Nepalese. On Monday, distraught people prayed and waited for news of their loved ones as rescuers used everything from pickaxes to bare hands to sift the rubble.
A young couple in Kathmandu told reporters they were out of the house Saturday when the quake struck, and they still didn’t know the fate of the two young children they’d left at their home, now buried. The father waited on mounds of rubble, saying he wants to find his children, dead or alive.
Nepal’s capital and other towns all have such heart wrenching stories. Mass cremations were conducted on Monday as the death toll continued to rise.
Oxfam executive Helen Szoke told VOA the earthquake has given Nepal what she described as a “double hit.” She said the country’s destroyed infrastructure will not support the tourism industry that Nepal depends on, compounding the humanitarian tragedy.