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Friday 9 December 2016

Briton among 5,000 Nepal dead as aid gets to epicentre

A Briton has been killed in the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

The British Foreign Office confirmed the death of the non-resident British national who had lived in Hong Kong.

Officials are also "urgently investigating" reports that another Briton has been killed at Mount Everest base camp.

A UK aid flight carrying 120 Britons has now left the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

More than 5,000 people have died since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday. Nepal's prime minister Sushil Koirala said the death toll could eventually rise to more than 10,000.

Meanwhile, aid has reached a hilly district near the epicentre of Nepal's earthquake for the first time, four days after the quake struck.

Nepalese women pleaded for food, shelter and anything else the helicopter might have brought on an in-and-out run to the smashed mountain village of Gumda.

Unlike in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, where most buildings were spared complete collapse, the tiny hamlets clinging to the remote mountainsides of Gorkha District have been ravaged. Entire clusters of homes were reduced to piles of stone and splintered wood. Orange plastic sheets used for shelter now dot the cliff sides.

Food is not the only necessity in short supply out here beyond the reaches of paved roads, electricity poles and other benefits of the modern world. These days, even water is scarce. Communication is a challenge. And modern medical care is a luxury many have never received.All climbers have now left Everest, ending the climbing season early for the second year. Last year, climbs were cancelled after 16 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche while hauling gear between camps.

Helicopters rescued some 210 foreign trekkers and local villagers stranded in the Lantang area north of Nepal's capital.

The international trekkers were stranded in Langtang, a popular trekking route bordering Tibet.

Government administrator Gautam Rimal said the trekkers and villagers were flown to the nearby town of Dhunche. But with landslides cutting off the roads from there to Kathmandu, the trekkers will have to trudge for at least four hours before they can board a bus to the Nepalese capital.

Meanwhile, the United Nations appealed for 415 million dollars (£268 million) to provide for vital needs in Nepal over the next three months.

It intends to support government efforts to provide shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food and protection.

The UN's humanitarian co-ordinator for Nepal, Jamie McGoldrick, said the response to date was encouraging, but those efforts need to be maintained, especially in remote areas.

He noted that the coming monsoon season was likely to add a logistical challenge to relief efforts, adding to the urgency.

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