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Nepal quake: China shuts down Everest season in Tibet

China has closed down Mount Everest attempts from the north for the spring after a massive quake struck Nepal over the weekend. Helicopters continue to rescue trekkers and villagers.

In the wake of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that killed more than 5,000 and injured 10,000 in Nepal over the weekend, China has announced that it has closed the climbing season for the north face of Everest and all other mountains in Tibet. However, in Nepal, some adventurers have already received permission to try again for the summit.

"China believes Sherpas should be able to go home and begin rebuilding," Adrian Ballinger, of California-based Alpenglow Expeditions, told the AP in an email Wednesday. "We are focusing our efforts on how we can help in Nepal, how we can get our members home, and how we can get our Sherpa team back to the Khumbu," added Ballinger, who led a team of 10 climbers and 12 guides when the earthquake hit.

Ballinger said officials had cited two reasons: safety concerns over possible additional earthquakes and solidarity with victims. A quake-triggered avalanche swept through the Everest base camp on the Nepal side of the mountain, killing 19 people.

The United Nations has reported that just

14 people have been rescued

since Saturday. In addition to the thousands killed within Nepal, nearly 100 people died in Bangladesh, India and China. Aftershocks continue to ripple around the region, and

rescuers are spread thin

looking for stranded villagers and travelers.

‘Time of need'

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama called Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to offer condolences and promise aid to the earthquake-damaged nation, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. A USAID disaster response team has reached the hard-hit city of Bhaktapur to work with the Nepali army and members of the community to find people who might be trapped. The United States also redirected 24 Army Green Beret commandos already in Nepal on training missions to join in rescue efforts.

"The president pledged that the United States will do all it can to help the people of Nepal in this time of need," Earnest says.

The UN has asked countries for $415 million (375 million euros) to support Nepalese authorities in their efforts to provide shelter, food, water and medical care to people over the next three months. About 4.2 million people urgently need water and sanitation, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1.4 million need food aid, and 500,000 have gone without shelter since Saturday.

On Wednesday, Nepalese emergency officials asked donors to be selective and strategic when sending

aid to the overburdened country

. Kathmandu's single-runway international airport

has had a hard time

keeping up with deliveries.

mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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