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Nepal earthquake death toll rises above 4,000 with entire villages destroyed

The search for survivors continues in Nepal as the death toll rises above 4,000. Aerial pictures have shown entire villages near the epicenter completely destroyed.

Much of the area worst hit by the earthquake is still impossible to reach. More than 4,000 people are confirmed dead so far with more than 7,000 injured. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach mountain villages that have been inaccessible since the quake.

Aid and rescue teams are being sent from around the world. The United Nations is releasing $15 million (13.8 million euros) from its central emergency response fund to help victims. Spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday that the funds would allow international humanitarian groups to scale up operations and provide shelter, water and medical supplies, and logistical services.

A Nepal army spokesman said

rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries

were in Nepal helping local police and army rescuers. India has sent the biggest team with six helicopters and seven trucks. Seven Indian search and rescue teams and another seven medical teams were at work Monday in the worst-hit areas.

Citing government figures, the UN's Haq said an estimated 8 million people have been affected by the quake in 39 of Nepal's districts, and more than 1.4 million need food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the quake's epicenter in poor quality housing. Thousands of people are unable to return to their destroyed homes, or for fear of further aftershocks and are living in makeshift tents.

Relief worker Brad Kerner of Save the Children said basic necessities are the immediate need as waterborne and infectious diseases are a risk to the people living outdoors in crowded, camp-like situations. He said "A lot of people are sleeping outside, so they are all homeless in a way. The longer people stay out of homes, and live in camps" clean water practices will fall short.

Kerner said: "We are making sure there is shelter, food and water available. We're handing out baby kits with blankets, soap, and other necessities for newborns, who are the most vulnerable in such situations."

International rescue

Germany is among the countries which have sent aid and rescue workers, including from the Red Cross (photo).

China has sent a medical team and a team to help with search and rescue operations. Chinese doctors have set up a field hospital at the mountain resort town of Dhulikhel, 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of Kathmandu.

Pakistan's army said it was sending four C-130 aircraft with a 30-bed hospital, search and rescue teams and relief supplies.

The US has announced an extra $9 million in aid and said two transport planes were due to arrive with search and rescue personnel. Australia, Britain and New Zealand have sent specialist urban search-and-rescue teams to Kathmandu at Nepal's request.

Kathmandu's small airport has been overwhelmed

since the quake, and aftershocks have forced it to close several times. Aircraft carrying aid, equipment and personnel were unable to land on Monday due to the high number of relief flights backed up on the tarmac.

On Monday evening, tremors again shook northeast India causing residents to flee their homes, fearing they would collapse.

jm/bw (Reuters, AP)

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