International relief effort for Nepal underway | News | DW | 27.04.2015
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International relief effort for Nepal underway

Tens of thousands are in dire need of aid in Nepal, following the deadliest earthquake to hit the country in the last 80 years. With many survivors camping out in the streets, UNICEF warns of risk of disease.

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs raced to find survivors Monday, while international teams continue to arrive at Kathmandu's sole international airport, two days after Nepal was hit by a deadly magnitude-7.8 earthquake. The death toll from the quake has now surpassed 3,600 people, according to official sources, with many more injured and hundreds of thousands of survivors forced out of their homes.

"There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them," Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said on Monday, adding that tents and water were being handed out at ten locations in the capital.

Help from abroad

Hundreds of aid workers from China, India, and the United States were assisting the Nepalese rescue workers on the ground. In addition, Australia, the UK and New Zealand said they were also sending their search-and-rescue teams, at Nepal's request.

German agency I.S.A.R., which is specialized in rescuing earthquake victims, also flew in a 52-person team composed of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers with sniffer dogs (pictured above). The German Red Cross announced it would send a plane loaded with 60 tons of aid from Berlin later on Monday.

Although the Kathmandu airport was reopened only a day after the quake, many aid flights could not land on schedule because of constant aftershocks, the strongest reaching magnitude 6.7, on Sunday.

Fear over disease

The United Nations said the hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were running out of emergency supplies, as well as space to store corpses. On Monday, the UN also called for donations for World Food Programme on Twitter, in order to provide relief for the survivors. Also on Monday, the Asian Development Bank announced it was sending $3 million (2.76 million euros) in emergency relief for tents, medicines, food and drinking water.

Nearly a million children were "severely affected" by the Saturday tragedy, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

"Our biggest concern for them right now is going to be access to clean water and sanitation, we know that water and food is running out," UNICEF's spokesman Christopher Tidey said.

With many survivors sleeping outside in open parks, squares and golf courses for fear of aftershocks, UNICEF said its relief workers were watching for waterborne and infectious diseases.

Many Nepalese were fleeing the capital for the plains on Monday morning.

Destruction feared at epicenter

According to the aid workers, the situation could be far worse near the very center of the Saturday earthquake, near the Lamjung district some 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the capital. Even before the quake, the area was not easily accessible. However, many of the roads leading to Lamjung are now presumed to be cut off by landslides.

Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official from the Gorkha district which is also located near the epicenter, said he was in desperate need of help.

"There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I've had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed," he said.

dj/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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