Governments across the globe have deployed emergency assistance following Nepal's deadliest earthquake in nearly a century. But response teams face increasing difficulties as the death toll continues to rise.
Aid groups and governments intensified efforts to help Nepal on Sunday after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the capital Kathmandu and surrounding areas the day before.
European, Asian and North American governments sent emergency response teams to Nepal as the country struggles to cope with the disaster. However, blocked roads, collapsed buildings, and continuing aftershocks pose major setbacks for emergency crews searching for survivors in the capital and cut-off rural areas.
Approximately 6.6 million people live in areas affected by the earthquake, UN emergency aid spokesman Jens Laerke told the DPA news agency from Geneva, adding that it is still too early to tell how many of them need immediate aid.
"Communication is down in many areas. Widespread destruction, rubble and landslides are preventing access to provide aid in many villages," the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.
"Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour," the statement added.
Oxfam reportedly told the AFP that morgues were reaching capacity, adding that the situation could take a turn for the worse as medical supplies dwindle.
"Communication systems are congested and hospitals are crowded and are running out of room for storing dead bodies," Oxfam's Australia chief executive Helen Szoke told AFP.
Global response intensifies
The official death toll from Saturday's earthquake rose to 2,352 people, Nepal's Interior Ministry confirmed on Sunday, while Prime Minister Sushil Koirala called for strong international support. Koirala's cry for help was met with strong support.
A team of 45 rescue experts from Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg left on a Belgian military plane on Sunday, bound for Nepal.
Japan's emergency services team, comprised of 70 experts, were also dispatched on Sunday. Sri Lanka sent a military C-130 aircraft carrying a 48-member medical and relief team with essential supplies. A second plane was also expected to carry more medical staff.
Rescue workers continue to search for bodies after buildings collapses in the wake of Saturday's earthquake
India, China, and Pakistan were the first to respond following news of the disaster. India deployed two military transport panes, while Pakistan sent two C-130 aircrafts carrying food and essential supplies, including a 30-bed hospital. A 62-member Chinese search and rescue team was also dispatched to Katmandu on Saturday.
The US committed $1 million (0.92 million euros) along with rescue teams, the US Agency for International Development confirmed. Australia and New Zealand pledged more than $4.5 million, while South Korea promised $1 million in humanitarian aid.
Numerous aid groups launched appeals for funds with the charity Christian Aid describing an "urgent need" for emergency shelters, food, clean drinking water, and warm clothing.
ls/ rc (AP, AFP, dpa)