Nepal Earthquake Death Toll Heads Towards 3,500

KATHMANDU (DPA) — The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake at the weekend in Nepal was 3,432, the Interior Ministry said Monday, after thousands more spent a second night in the open.

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An injured earthquake victim receives medical treatment at Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

The government said around 6,505 people were injured in the quake that hit on Saturday.

"Lightning and thunder. Haunting feel to the city, yet tens of thousands – or most of city – out on streets, under tarps," Kathmandu-based writer Kashish Das Shrestha tweeted.

Besides the fear caused by numerous aftershocks, people camping in open spaces were suffering a combination of rain, hunger and thirst.

"There is no space. So at least 50 people are crammed in an open area in our neighbourhood," said Pramod Karki, who was staying in a camp near his house in the capital's Kalanki district.

"The old people and children are defecating around the place and that could be a major health hazard."

People were living in small groups in camps, sharing resources as the foul smell and flies started infesting their makeshift homes.

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People search for survivors stuck under the rubble of a destroyed building, after an earthquake caused serious damage in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2015.

Hospitals damaged by the quake were treating patients in improvised outdoor clinics.

Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudel asked all government employees and bodies to work to help the injured and the displaced.

The government said it was preparing to hold mass cremations to prevent diseases from spreading.

The Tourism Ministry said it was also focusing on rescuing the foreigners trapped around the country.

"We rescued around 82 people from the Everest Base Camp yesterday," ministry secretary Suresh Man Shrestha said.

"There are 18 dead bodies on Mount Everest but we brought down only the wounded. Hopefully there will be no more casualties."

"We are also using smaller helicopters and those from the Indian army too for rescue. We are focused on the Everest region and on Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Sindupalchowk districts."

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People free a man from the rubble of a destroyed building after an earthquake hit Nepal, in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2015. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

Nepal's army has also deployed its forces.

"We have mobilized 90 per cent of our resources," said military official Jagdish Chandra Pokharel. "We're working on a war footing and we request people to do what they can to help people around them."

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala arrived back in Nepal on Sunday after cutting short a visit to Indonesia.

Authorities were struggling with limited capacity to respond to the crisis, he said.

"But we are expecting more foreign help now and now need to work on cremating people, on sanitation, on clean drinking water."

Efforts were also under way to fix phone lines and restore power on Monday, he said.

Aid from around the world was arriving or being promised.

Britain has pledged 5 million pounds (7.5 million dollars) and Canada has promised 5 million Canadian dollars (4.1 million US dollars).

The Asian Development Bank pledged up to 200 million dollars in credit for the first phase of rehabilitation. The bank said it is sending 3 million dollars as a grant for tents, medicines, food and drinking water. The rest of the money would be "additional resources," it said, probably a combination of grants and loans.

India was sending in a search-and-rescue team and Pakistan had set up temporary medical camps.

There was also high-tech help from Facebook and Google who have added functions to their online platforms to help people find friends and relatives caught in the quake.

Social networking site Facebook introduced its Safety Check feature, enabling users to mark their own status as "safe," or let their Facebook friends update their status for them.

Search giant Google's Person Finder allows users to post information about a third party, for example if the user had managed to reach someone in the area by telephone.

 

Reporting by Pratibha Tuladhar

 
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