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[ 2015-04-28 ]

Nepal quake toll could reach 7,000
Angry crowds gathered outside aid distribution
centres in the Nepalese capital yesterday to
demand food and shelter, three days after a
devastating earthquake that rescuers believe
killed more than 7,000 people.
“We need help,” said Ram Pauden, who like
thousands of others was living outdoors under a
plastic sheet in one of Kathmandu’s main parks,
fearful of another earthquake. “There is no
shelter — nothing. We are desperate. The prices
are going up for everything.”
As rescuers fought to remove rubble and pull
survivors from collapsed buildings, Nepal’s
government was showing signs of being overwhelmed
by the biggest disaster to hit the country for 80
years. Some aid workers were able to hand out only
plastic sheets to destitute survivors, and at
Kathmandu airport many aid flights were cancelled
or delayed because of a lack of space on the
Amazing tales of endurance emerged on the slopes
of Everest. A British woman begged by her parents
not to go to the Himalayas after coming through an
avalanche there last year also survived Saturday’s
disaster when Base Camp was destroyed by a
“tsunami-like” wall of ice. Selina Dicker ducked
under a ridge with seconds to spare.
Several Britons were still stranded on the slopes
as helicopters flew in beneath them to remove the
bodies of the dead. Dozens are unaccounted for
throughout the country, although by last night the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office had not received
reports of any UK nationals being killed.
Peter Oyloe, the deputy country director of Save
the Children in Nepal, said that the final death
toll from the earthquake could exceed 7,000. “My
feeling is that this is the tip of the iceberg,”
he said. “Once we get out to the more remote
districts we are going to see more and more
There was disturbing news from the remote
districts of Gorkha and Lamjung, close to the
epicentre of the earthquake, where entire villages
may have been buried by rocks. Matt Darvas, an aid
worker for World Vision, reached Gorkha yesterday,
and said that up to 75 per cent of the buildings
in the village of Singla might have collapsed.
Helicopters heading to the epicentre area had to
turn back because of heavy clouds.
Thousands of Nepalis jammed the main roads out of
Kathmandu. Long queues formed outside petrol
“There is fear and tension,” said Roger Hodgson,
of Save the Children, who expressed concern that
looting could break out unless the government
ensured stable supplies of essential items. “We
are escaping,” said Krishna Muktari, a shopkeeper
in Kathmandu, standing at a road junction. “How
can you live here?”
“People are getting very tense and angry,” said
Keshab Magar, 22, as he prepared to spend his
third night outdoors after Saturday’s
7.8-magnitude earthquake. “They need food and
At Kathmandu’s main teaching hospital, the
mortuary was full. Bishal Shreshta, a doctor, said
the hospital was operating at its “upper limit”
and there was a need for some medicines. “We are
seeing a lot of head injuries, chest and internal
injuries, limb and pelvic fractures,” he said.
Hundreds of foreign trekkers and tourists were
camped out on the floor in the lobbies of hotels
across the city, refusing to sleep in their rooms
because of fears that aftershocks could bring down
more buildings. At the Yak and Yeti hotel, there
was pandemonium when an aftershock hit at 4am on
“People are shell-shocked,” said Robert Besecker,
40, from Chicago, who was on the way back from
Everest Base Camp when the first earthquake hit on
Saturday. “It was horrible. I’ve never experienced
anything like it. It felt like it lasted for ever
— time slowed down. There was a Sherpa who was
killed near by. His body was covered up.”
In the historic Durbar Square, residents were
cooking over open fires beside mounds of rubble
and fragments of carved wood — the remains of
Hindu temples and monuments.
“About 50 people died in this area, including two
or three foreigners,” said Ms Khati, 23, a police
officer in the square, the scene of some of the
worst damage. “There was a lot of smoke and dust
when it hit. It was terrifying.”
“I came here on Saturday because of the
earthquake,” said Prazin Singh, 15, who was camped
out in a Kathmandu park with his family. “We were
worried our house would collapse.”
Nepalese troops and rescue workers were removing
rubble but seemed resigned to the fact that no
further survivors would be found in the historic
district, a warren of medieval lanes and ancient
tiered temples.
“When it hit it felt like the final spin cycle of
the washing machine,” said Jebin Gautam, 24. “I
was at the Patan temple at the time and there was
panic. I ducked and cowered under a table.”
Crying children and tearful adults were camped out
in the square, sheltering from the sun with
tarpaulins and ragged plastic sheets. With fuel
shortages and most shops closed for business,
there was little traffic, but large crowds of
startled residents roamed the dusty streets, many
saying that they were running short of food.
Raju Darlmalami, 25, a hotel worker, said that he
had decided to camp out in Tudikkhel park, a large
central parade ground in Kathmandu, because he was
terrified of further earthquakes. “Our home was
damaged and I have lost a lot of my things. There
is no water and no food here. We are not getting
any help.”
At the airport, thousands of people were waiting
to catch flights out of the city. Large cracks
have appeared in the floor of the arrivals hall,
walls have buckled, and the runway was damaged in
an aftershock.

Source - The Times(UK)

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