herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Over 1.4m need food and water as toll hits 4,400

disaster

Injured woman and her daughter receive medical treatment after arriving at Dhading hospital, in the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake, in Dhading Besi, Nepal
Injured woman and her daughter receive medical treatment after arriving at Dhading hospital, in the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake, in Dhading Besi, Nepal
Abhishek Tamang looks on after receiving medical treatment, following Saturday's earthquake, at Dhading hospital, in Dhading Besi, Nepal
Man carries an injured child, who was wounded in Saturday's earthquake, after Indian Army soldiers evacuated them from Trishuli Bazar to the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal
An undated handout photograph provided by India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on 27 April 2015 of NDRF personnel engaged in relief and rescue operations in Nepal. The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake at the weekend in Nepal was 3,432, the Interior Ministry said on 27 April, after thousands more spent a second night in the open
An Indian Air Force person walks carrying a Nepalese child, wounded in Saturday's earthquake, to a waiting ambulance as the mother follows after they were evacuated from a remote area at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday
Undated handout photo issued by International Federation of Red Cross of a young girl in Kathmandu, Nepal following an earthquake which left more than 3,500 dead and thousands of others injured
Undated handout photo issued by International Federation of Red Cross of rescue work in Kathmandu, Nepal following an earthquake which left more than 3,500 dead and thousands of others injured.

Entire villages have been wiped out and more than 1.4 million people are in need of food and water, according to the latest reports from crisis-hit Nepal.

Meanwhile, the agonising wait for news of loved ones goes on for the families of Irish people still missing in the Himalayan country after Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

The death toll in the worst earthquake to hit the country for more than 80 years has risen to more than 4,400 and thousands more are injured and homeless.

According to the most up-to-date figures from the UN, eight million people in 39 districts have been affected.

READ MORE: We need €10m to help devastated people, says charity

British and Irish medical staff, experts and volunteers have been dispatched to the worst-affected areas, with the RAF, firefighters from the UK International Search and Rescue Team, Gurkha engineers and medics from the Doctors Of The World charity among those involved.

Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), said a quake of this kind had been forecast to happen in the area for many years.

He told the BBC entire villages had been wiped out and, close to the earthquake’s epicentre, whole villages had been completely destroyed.

READ MORE: My sister was trapped on mountain when avalanche came, says TV star Amanda Holden

“Now we are seeing tens of thousands of homeless people sleeping in makeshift camps,” he said. “Those who are lucky have got tents, others are now having to sleep in the open air, in the cold, in the wet.”

Mr Saeed said that always after such disasters there was some degree of “chaos and confusion” but he stressed aid was “getting in” by road and plane, adding that over the next few days people would see an intense increased activity to make sure all those who need help are being reached.

He said he expected the death toll to rise, adding: “What we really need to do is focus on those who are still living and need the help – that’s tens of thousands of people who have been made homeless, 7,000 people who have been injured.”

Towns and villages across Nepal have been flattened, and communications pr oblems in the worst-affected areas have left families and friends around the world anxiously awaiting news of loved ones.

Aid workers on the ground have reported “huge logistical difficulties” as road closures and communication problems have thwarted some efforts.

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Leigh Daynes, UK director of medical charity Doctors Of The World, said Nepal’s health sys tem was already vulnerable even before the earthquake, especially in rural areas.

“Now hospitals are utterly incapacitated, infrastructure has been decimated and thousands of people are sleeping on the streets. With monsoon season only weeks away, this is a catastrophe of the highest order and demands an urgent medical response,” he said.

Helicopters crisscrossed the skies above the mountains of Gorkha district near the epicentre, ferrying the injured to clinics, and taking emergency supplies back to remote villages.

Around noon, two helicopters brought in eight women from Ranachour village, two of them clutching babies to their breast, and a third heavily pregnant.

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“We are facing huge logistical difficulties. As well as roads being closed, aftershocks have prevented planes from landing at Kathmandu airport.”

Meanwhile, all of the climbers stranded at camps high up Mount Everest have been helicoptered to safety.

Taking advantage of yesterday’s clear weather, three helicopters shuttled climbers all day  from camp 1, above the impassable Khumbu icefalls, while others trekked back from camp 2 to be airlifted out.

Between 17 and 22 climbers are reported to have died in avalanches.

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