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Nepal earthquake toll tops 4,100

The Nepal Red Cross distributes tarpaulins across Kathmandu to provide families with emergency shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday. EPA/Palani Mohan/International Federation of Red Cross .

The Nepal Red Cross distributes tarpaulins across Kathmandu to provide families with emergency shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday. EPA/Palani Mohan/International Federation of Red Cross .

Kathmandu [DPA]

The number of people confirmed dead in the weekend’s powerful earthquake in Nepal has passed 4,000, and aid efforts are being ramped up as the country struggles to provide relief to survivors.

The Interior Ministry said on Monday that 4,138 had died and many thousands more were injured in Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake.

Besides the fear caused by numerous aftershocks, thousands of people camping in open spaces were suffering a combination of rain, hunger and thirst.

Nepal’s army deployed 90 per cent of its forces on search and rescue missions, with military official Jagdish Chandra Pokharel saying the army was ‘working on a war footing’.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said authorities were struggling with their limited capacity to respond to the crisis.

The government has only six helicopters, with 20 other helicopters in private hands. ‘We are expecting more foreign help now and now need to work on cremating people, on sanitation, on clean drinking water,’ Koirala said.

Hospitals damaged by the quake were treating patients in improvised outdoor clinics, while streets near Kathmandu’s Teaching Hospital were lined with vehicles as people continued to bring the injured.

Pramod Karki, who was staying in a camp near his house in the capital’s Kalanki district, said: ‘There is no space. So at least 50 people are crammed in an open area in our neighbourhood.’

Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudel has asked all government employees to work to help the injured and the displaced.

Mass cremations were being held in some places in the capital, with the government saying they were a necessary measure to prevent disease from spreading.

The Tourism Ministry said it was also focusing on rescuing the foreigners trapped around the country, including people on climbing expeditions.

‘We rescued around 82 people from the Everest Base Camp yesterday,’ ministry secretary Suresh Man Shrestha said.

Australian Renu Fotedar was among 19 people killed on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. The other dead included two US nationals and one Chinese, while the other victims were Nepalese.

Sixty people were injured and were receiving treatment at various hospitals, Shrestha said.

Dramatic footage from the disaster on Everest emerged on Monday, with video showing an avalanche rising like a cloud of smoke and then crashing down and engulfing the campsite.

According to the Tourism Ministry more than 1000 climbers, including more than 490 foreigners, were present at the Base Camp when the earthquake struck.

Shrestha said helicopters were deployed to rescue about 200 climbers trapped at camps one and two.

Across the country efforts were under way to fix phone lines and restore power on Monday, the prime minister said.

India had so far dispatched 400 tons of relief materials and basic supplies, according to the Indian embassy in Kathmandu. Pakistan had set up temporary medical camps.

Chinese rescue teams began searching for victims and survivors in the capital.

The Asian Development Bank pledged up to $US200 million ($A256 million) in credit for the first phase of rehabilitation and said it was sending $US3 million as a grant for tents, medicines, food and drinking water.

Britain has pledged $US7.5 million and Canada has promised $US4.1 million.

Fourteen of the European Union’s 28 member states have offered to send first aid teams and equipment, a spokeswoman for the bloc’s executive said.

There was also high-tech help from Facebook and Google, which added functions to their online platforms to help people find friends and relatives caught in the quake.

 


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