International aid and rescue workers have been continuing to arrive at Kathmandu's airport two days after Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake. The official death toll has now climbed above 3,700.
A series of aftershocks on Monday continued to keep people from returning to their homes for fear that even the houses left standing could collapse. The Nepal Red Cross said the strongest aftershock following Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake had a magnitude of 6.7.
This left tens of thousands of people sheltering in makeshift tent camps in and around the capital, Kathmandu. The chief administrator for Kathmandu district, Ek Narayan Aryal, said that aid workers were handing out tents and water at 10 locations around the capital Monday.
Aid and rescue workers from several countries, including Germany, India, China and the United States, are already in Kathmandu delivering assistance to the survivors, with many more on their way.
Water purification plants
Among those on the ground are around a dozen experts from Germany's Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW). A representative of the Bonn-based agency said the THW workers were a quick response team (SEEWA) that was to investigate the situation on the ground and look for locations suitable for setting up two drinking water purification plants. According to the THW, once in operation, the plants will be capable of supplying 30,000 people with drinking water. The two plants were to be on board a German Red Cross plane that was to leave Berlin bound for Kathmandu later on Monday, carrying 60 tons of aid.
Providing potable water was named as one of the top priorities in the aid effort by Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
"We are expecting more foreign help now and now need to work on cremating people, on sanitation, on clean drinking water," Koirala said.
Pledges of support were coming in from countries all over the world, including from many European Union countries. The European Commission announced Monday that it would provide 3 million euros ($3.25 million) above and beyond the aid pledged by its member states.
The United Nations World Food Programme also announced on Monday that it was preparing to launch a major operation to provide aid to Nepal.
"This will be a large, massive operation," WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the AFP news agency. Also heavily involved in the relief effort are other UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and the children's agency UNICEF, which has warned that children forced to camp out in the open are at particular risk of disease.
While the aid continued to pour into Kathmandu airport, officials said they were scrambling to get the assistance to those in need in the city and beyond. Officials said on Monday that the confirmed death toll had climbed above 3,700, with more than 6,300 injured. These figures were expected to continue to rise, as reports from some of the country's remote villages were only beginning to trickle in.
pfd/bw (dpa, Reuters AP, AFP)