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European Union increases Nepal earthquake funds

The European Union has spurred its financial assistance for Nepal's quake victims. Meanwhile, the Nepalese government said a shortage of helicopters is hindering its relief efforts in worst-hit remote areas.

The EU has approved $22 million (20 million euros) to help the Himalayan nation deal with the relief efforts in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake, which has devastated large parts of the country.

The EU's direct emergency funds for Nepal will now be doubled from $3 million to $6 million, Christos Stylianides, the EU's Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said Monday in Brussels.

"As soon as the needs assessments are completed, we will look into how we can further assist," said the EU's development commissioner Neven Mimica, adding that the Nepalese authorities must also focus on addressing the long-term consequences of the disaster.

The EU has already allocated $360 million in its budget for Nepal, which will be delivered to the South Asian country by 2020.

Earlier, the Nepalese government said it was facing a huge funding problem, and

requested the international community to step up its support

.

The EU warned that the upcoming monsoon rains in the region would hamper the rescue efforts and increase the risk of landslides.

The Death toll in Nepal's magnitude-7.8 earthquake has surpassed 7,000

, and the damage to the impoverished country's infrastructure has been massive. More than 14,000 people have been injured.

Shortage of helicopters

Nepal's government said Monday it needed more helicopters to reach the country's difficult mountainous terrain.

The authorities are currently using 13 helicopters, including seven private ones, while India has provided 14 for relief operations in the worst-hit regions of the country.

"We do not have enough helicopters to deliver relief materials and conduct rescue operations simultaneously," interior ministry spokesman Laxmi Dhakal said.

The Himalayan state's rescue efforts have been boosted by the addition of four Osprey aircraft provided by the US, but Dhakal said "these are not enough."

"We need at least double or three times more than what we have right now," he added.

shs/jil (dpa, EPD, AFP, AP)

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