Nepal Steps Up Rescue Effort Amid Global Aid Rush (VIDEO)

Tons of aid material reaches Kathmandu airport as relief and rescue operation under way as death toll crosses 3,700

Rescue efforts have intensified in Nepal amid a stream of foreign aid reaching the capital Kathmandu in the wake of the devastating earthquake that has claimed more than 3,700 lives and injured up to 6,500 others.

Police said on Monday that the death toll may go further up as rescuers struggle to reach remote regions in the mountainous country of 28 million people and as bodies buried under rubble are recovered.

Aid effort is being stepped up, Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman reported from Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, one of the worst affected areas in the capital.

The first nations to respond were Nepal’s neighbours – India, China, and Pakistan, all of which have been jockeying for influence over the landlocked nation.

Nepal remains closest to India, with which it shares deep political, cultural and religious ties.

                              Small fixes made to the infographic [Al Jazeera]

Military cargo planes from India and Pakistan have landed at Kathmandu airport, which has been struggling to handle the volume of cargo and civilian planes flying in.

“Kathmandu has a very small airport, therefore they are making a priority that miliatry aircraft with rescue personnel are allowed first. Also they are trying to get in NGOs,” our correspondent said.

“India and Pakistan are coming to the forefront, as they have a lot of experience in this sort of catastrophe.

“I saw military aircraft from China, Japan as well as Sri Lanka.”

Base camp avalanche

The magnitude 7.8 quake also touched off an avalanche at the base camp of Mount Everest in which 17 people were killed.

Scores of people are still stuck in the mountains and a rescue operation is under way to lift them from the frozen frontiers.

Other countries involved in aid efforts are UAE, Israel, the US and members of the European Union.

They have sent or pledged money or supplies – including medicines, a mobile hospital and rescue teams.

Al Jazeera’s Rahman said a senior Dutch diplomat is part of a combined EU aid effort, “organising and trying to sort out a large contingent of Dutch rescue and recovery personnel”.

Ek Narayan Aryal, Kathmandu district chief administrator, said tents and water were being handed out on Monday at 10 locations in the capital, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery.

The largest, on Sunday, was magnitude 6.7. Four large aftershocks were felt overnight and into Monday morning.

“There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them,” Aryal told AP news agency.

Shortage of food and water

In Kathmandu, tens of thousands of people spent the night sleeping in parks or on a golf course.

“We don’t feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn’t stop,” said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent Sunday with his niece’s family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple.

Aid workers have warned that the situation could be far worse near the epicentre.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred near Lamjung, a district about 80km northwest of Kathmandu. While not far away, poor roads and steep mountains make Lamjung difficult to reach.

Overwhelmed authorities were trying to cope with a shortage of drinking water and food, as well as the threat of disease. There were reports of water and vegetables being sold at inflated prices.

The sick and wounded were lying out in the open in Kathmandu, unable to find beds in the devastated city’s hospitals. Surgeons set up an operating theatre inside a tent on the grounds of Kathmandu Medical College.

“We are overwhelmed with rescue and assistance requests from all across the country,” said Deepak Panda, a member of the country’s disaster management.

Most shops in Kathmandu, where more than 1,000 people have died, were closed after the government declared a weeklong period of recovery.

Anurag Acharya, a Kathmandu-based journalist, said that “people are furious and not allowing journalists in the devastated area [Darbar Square]”.

“Kathmandu’s heritage buildings are almost completely lost,” he told Al Jazeera.


Reprinted with permission from Al Jazeera

Posted By: Keith

Writer, political junkie, rabid rock music fan, amateur gardener, astronomer and ornithologist, cook extraordinaire, sipper of fine wine and, more than once, the funniest guy in the room.

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