Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake: Rescue Effort Intensifies
Pan-African News Wire & BBC World Service

Emergency rescue workers carried quake victims on a stretchers after Dharara tower collapsed in Kathmandu

There are fears the death toll could rise yet further

Rescue efforts in Nepal are intensifying after more than 1,300 people were killed in the country's worst earthquake in more than 80 years.

Many countries and international charities have offered aid to Nepal to deal with the disaster.
Thousands of people braved freezing temperatures to sleep on pavements, parks or fields on Saturday night.

Officials fear that the death toll could rise as the desperate search for survivors continued into Sunday.

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck an area of central Nepal between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara on Saturday morning.

There were also victims in India, Bangladesh, in the Chinese region of Tibet and on Mount Everest, where avalanches were triggered.

Little information has emerged from the epicentre, where extensive damage has been reported, and there are fears the death toll could rise yet further.

It is the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since one in 1934 which killed some 8,500 people.

'Moment of crisis'

"We have launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation action plan and lots needs to be done," Information and Broadcasting Minister Minendra Rijal told Indian television.

Hospitals across the country are struggling to cope with the high number of dead and injured
"Our country is in a moment of crisis and we will require tremendous support and aid."

World leaders and global charities have offered emergency aid to Nepal, as the government grapples with the scale of the disaster.

Its task is made harder because internet and mobile phone communications are erratic, with many roads closed due to quake damage.

The United States, China, Pakistan and European Union countries are among those who have pledged aid.

The US Embassy in Nepal pledged $1m (£660,000) in initial aid while the US Agency for International Development sent an urban search and rescue team.

"We are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support,'' said Secretary of State John Kerry.

Historic landmarks were wrecked in the earthquake

"We do not yet know the scope of the damage, but this could be one of the deadliest and most devastating earthquakes since the 1934 tremor which devastated Nepal and [the Indian state of] Bihar," said International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Asia-Pacific Director Jagan Chapagain.

The IFRC said it was especially worried about the fate of villages near the epicentre of the quake, some 80km (50 miles) from the capital Kathmandu.

In Europe, Britain, Germany and Spain pledged assistance, with Norway pledging $3.9m in humanitarian aid.

"The absolute priority must be to reach people who are trapped and injured, and provide shelter and protection to those who have lost their homes," UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said.

Foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides around Mount Everest were caught by the tremors and a huge avalanche. Some took to social media to send desperate messages for assistance, warning that otherwise more people would die.


An official with Nepal's mountaineering department, Gyanendra Shrestha, said the bodies of 10 people had been found while an unknown number of climbers were missing or injured.

A Kathmandu earthquake has long been feared because the city lies on a natural seismic fault
Their nationalities were unclear as climbers told of chaotic attempts to treat the injured amid fears of more landslides and aftershocks.

Chinese media reported that a Chinese climber and two Sherpa guides were among the dead.
Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive who described himself as an adventurer, was also killed, Google confirmed.

Offers of aid:
The US is sending a disaster response team and has released an initial $1m (£0.7m) according to the US aid agency USAid
India has sent several aircraft, carrying medical supplies and a mobile hospital, as well as a 40-strong disaster response team, including rescuers with dogs
The UK is sending an eight-strong team of humanitarian experts
Pakistan is sending four C-130 aircraft carrying a 30-bed field hospital and army doctors and specialists; urban search-and-rescue teams equipped with radars and sniffer dogs; and food items, including 2,000 meals, 200 tents and 600 blankets
Norway has promised 30 million krone (£2.5m; $3.9m) in humanitarian assistance
Germany, Spain, France, Israel and the European Union are also pledging to send aid

World's deadliest recent earthquakes

Iran, 2003: More than 26,000 people killed in 6.6 earthquake near the city of Bam
Indonesia, 2004: Devastating 9.1 earthquake and ensuing tsunami off the Sumatran province of Aceh kills more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries
Pakistani-administered Kashmir, 2005: 7.6 earthquake near Muzafferabad kills about 100,000 people
China, 2008: Nearly 90,000 killed in 7.9 earthquake in eastern Sichuan province
Haiti, 2010: More than 220,000 people killed in 7.0 magnitude earthquake

Are you in the area? Are you affected by the earthquake? If it is safe to do so, you can share your story by emailing

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