Australia sends aid for Nepal quake victims

More than 1.4 million victims of the Nepalese earthquake are in need of urgent help, say aid ­agencies, as the death toll climbs above 5000 and the world rallies to ­assist the stricken nation’s ­legion of cold and homeless.

Australia will provide another $5 million in humanitarian aid to help earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal.

“This will bring our contribution to $10 million, which places us as one of the highest donors in terms of money for humanitarian relief,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Perth on Friday.

The additional funds will be given to the UN Flash Appeal, the Australian Red Cross and other non-government organisations taking part in relief efforts.

Australia has earlier sent a military aircraft to evacuate stranded Australians and urged that travellers who are able should leave the country as soon as possible.

Melbourne woman Renu Fotedar is the only confirmed Australian fatality, although the whereabouts of up to 200 ­Aus­tralians believed to have been in the area when the quake hit is ­unknown.

“We will continue to search for any Australians who are un­accounted for,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said last night.

An RAAF C17 cargo plane loaded with medical supplies, shelters, water purifying kits and a small medical logistics team may arrive in Kathmandu as soon as today.

Nepalese police said at least 5057 bodies had been recovered from the rubble, including 1176 bodies in Sindhupalchuk district, just northeast of the capital.

It is understood that more than 10,000 people had been injured in the magnitude-7.8 quake.

Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless and are living in Kathmandu’s growing tent city.

An RAAF C-17A Globemaster III will shortly be headed to Kathmandu with humanitarian and disaster relief supplies as part of the global effort to support Nepal following the devastating earthquakes that struck on Saturday.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said the C-17A will also be used to evacuate Australian citizens and approved foreign nationals from the Nepal capital to Bangkok.

“Defence will support the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) led Australian Government response to the earthquake in Nepal under Operation Nepal Assist,” the Minister said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The RAAF C-17A aircraft is currently being prepared to depart from RAAF Base Amberley. Departure timings will be determined by availability of airport access in Kathmandu.

“Defence stands ready to provide additional support as directed by the Australian Government.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering as a result of this earthquake.”

The death toll from the magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck Kathmandu on Saturday afternoon has so far exceeded 4,000, on top of the at least 6,000 injured.

The United Nations said eight million people have been affected by the earthquake, with more than 1.4 million people in need of food assistance. Many have also lost their homes and were forced to sleep outdoors in makeshift tent cities that have been created.

Australia, which is also sending A$5 million in aid, is one of many countries that have pledged support in such a time of need.

Neighbouring countries such as China, India and Pakistan have all offered humanitarian aid and sent specialist teams to help with the rescue effort, while Israel, Japan, the US and UK were also part of the emergency relief effort.

With the weather clearing, helicopters would able to pick up supplies and relay them to smaller villages. Rebecca McAteer, an American doctor, said many of the victims in Gorkha were the young and the elderly.

Ms Bishop said Australia stood ready to help but had been advised not to send a search and rescue team at this stage because there were 10 from other countries already there. Further assistance would be based on advice from the Nepalese government.

Chaos reigned at Kathmandu’s small airport, with the ­onslaught of relief flights creating major backups on the tarmac.

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