KATHMANDU, (Nepal) — More than 5,000 people are confirmed dead from Saturday’s earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nearly 11,000 more were injured, according to Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center.
Some eight million affected across Nepal. One million children urgently in need of help. The startling numbers indicate the scale of the devastation from the huge earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation this week.
People are still stranded in remote villages and towns across Nepal, waiting for aid and relief to arrive on Tuesday, four days after a devastating earthquake destroyed buildings and roads and killed more than 5,600 people.
In neighbouring India 61 people were killed and China’s official Xinhua News Agency said 25 people had died in Tibet. Eighteen others were killed in avalanches on Mount Everest.
The Nepal government has yet to assess the full scale of the damage wrought by Saturday’s 7.9 magnitude quake, unable to reach many mountainous areas despite aid supplies and personnel pouring in from around the world.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told Reuters the death toll could reach 10,000, as information of damage from far-flung villages and towns has yet to come in.
That would surpass the 8,500 who died in a 1934 earthquake, the last disaster on this scale to hit the Himalayan nation.
“We had an official bulletin last night, telling people that it was OK for them to return home and sleep indoors tonight. Shortly after that bulletin went out, we had a 4.8 aftershock. So, things still very much evolving here — and a lot of scared and nervous people.”
“The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing,” Koirala said. “It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal.”
In Jharibar, a village in the hilly Gorkha district of Nepal close to the quake’s epicenter, Sunthalia dug for hours in the rubble of her collapsed home on Saturday to recover the bodies of two of her children, a 10-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.
Another son aged four miraculously survived.
Nepal fears major health crisis
Health workers said they feared a major health crisis was unfolding among survivors of the quake who are living in the open or in overcrowded tents with no access to sanitation or clean water.
On Tuesday helicopters crisscrossed the skies above Gorkha, close to the epicentre of Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 quake, ferrying the injured to clinics and taking emergency supplies back to remote villages. Aid workers who had reached the region described entire villages reduced to rubble.
“In some villages, about 90% of the houses have collapsed. They’re just flattened,” said Rebecca McAteer, an American physician. Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for Gorkha, warned that people were not getting food and shelter.
That grim assessment was supported by World Vision aid worker Matt Darvas, who reached Gorkha on Monday. “It does not seem aid is reaching here very quickly,” he said.
“Further north from here the reports are very disturbing,” he said, adding that up to 75% of the buildings in Singla may have collapsed. There has been no contact with that village since Saturday night.
In the town of Dhulikhel, the main hospital, one of only two serving the Kabre district, with a population of 380,000, was due to run out of diesel fuel for its generator at midnight on Monday.
“We are trying to get more but it’s difficult. We’ve a little bit of solar but not enough to light the operating theatres and the wards,” said Dr Deepak Shrestha.