Local women believed safe after Nepal earthquake

Athena Zelandonii and Ngaire Seccombe. (Facebook)

Athena Zelandonii and Ngaire Seccombe. (Facebook)

Two northern rivers women caught up in the earthquake in Nepal are believed to be sheltering in a hospital in the Langtang Valley.

Ngaire Seccombe of Casino and her friend Athena Zelandonii, formerly of Lismore, were five days into a trek when the earthquake struck.

After days with no news, Ngaire’s father John Seccombe, the chair of the Northern Cooperative Meat Company at Casino, told ABC radio this morning that the families had heard that the pair was believed to be okay.

‘We’ve just heard via social media through Germany that she’s on a list of survivors – 84 survivors from 15 nationalities – sheltering in a hospital in the Langtang area,’ Mr Seccombe said.

‘It’s a big relief.’

Mr Seccombe said the wait for news had been gut wrenching, especially as the area the pair had been traveling in had been hard-hit by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, the federal government is offering flights out of the quake-stricken country to survivors.

Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishops said 1150 Australians had now been contacted, up from 830 on Monday, and they are “safe and well”.

Melbourne woman Renu Fotedar died after an avalanche at the Mount Everest base camp on Sunday caused by a 6.7 magnitude aftershock.

The major aftershock followed the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which hit close to Kathmandu the day before and which has resulted in widespread death and destruction.

“Her family are in Kathmandu and our embassy are providing consular assistance to them,” Ms Bishop told Nine Network on Tuesday.

Ms Bishop extended her condolences to the friends and family of Ms Fotedar.

The number of people confirmed dead has passed 4000, and aid efforts are being ramped up as the country struggles to provide relief to survivors.

The Interior Ministry said on Monday that 4138 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 has 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 outdoors clinics, while streets near Kathmandu’s Teaching Hospital were lined with vehicles as people continued to bring the injured.

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