World / Asia-Pacific

Rescue efforts intensify as death toll from Nepal quake soars

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-27 06:01

KATHMANDU - International aid groups and the governments intensified efforts to send rescuers and supplies into quake-stricken Nepal on Sunday as death toll soared to about 2,150 with 5,460 injured in the Himalayan country.

The death toll in Nepal has exceeded 2,150 including at least 700 killed in capital Kathmandu and about 5,460 others have been wounded, National police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam said on Sunday.

Spokesperson for the Home Ministry Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said earlier that the ratio of damage caused by the major earthquake has yet to be confirmed.

An 8.1-magnitude quake jolted central, western, mid-western and far-western parts of Nepal at midday on Saturday, leaving tens and hundreds of people injured and causing damage to properties worth over billion US dollars.

In Kathmandu, thousands of people had spent the night on pavements, in parks and open fields in chilly temperatures, too afraid to return to their ramshackle homes. Some of them had a packet of noodle and a bottle of water in their hands, while the majority had nothing to eat or drink.

Most of historic buildings in the worst-hit Kathmandu Valley were destroyed in Saturday's catastrophe while a 6.7-magnitude aftershock jolted Nepal on Sunday.

The Kathmandu Valley, listed as the UNESCO World Heritage site, is a collection of seven locations around the Nepali capital that lies at the crossroads of ancient civilization of Asia.

An emergency cabinet meeting has announced 29 districts in the country as crisis zones, according to the Home Ministry. Rescue operations are underway by the Nepal Army, Police and Armed Police Force but they are slow in remote areas due to lack of equipment.

Meanwhile, 18 mountaineers have lost their lives with around 20 others missing in the quake-triggered avalanche in Mount Qomolangma. The nationalities of the victims are not yet clear.

Despite the deployment of six helicopters to the avalanche-hit area, only two could function owing to bad weather condition.

Amid the devastating disaster, the government of Nepal has appealed for assistance from the international community.

The 62-strong China International Search and Rescue Team arrived in Nepal on Sunday to carry out humanitarian mission.

Four Chinese nationals, including two workers with a Chinese company, a mountain climber and a tourist, were killed and five others seriously injured in the quake, the Chinese Embassy confirmed.

The powerful earthquake, which was followed by at least 14 aftershocks, also lashed parts of India, and was felt in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India, where nearly 50 people were killed in the temblor, has flown in military aircraft to Nepal with medical equipment and relief groups in addition to 285 members of its National Disaster Response Force.

Japan confirmed its 70-strong emergency service team would leave for the disaster-hit nation on Sunday while Pakistan sent two military transport planes with relief goods, search and rescue teams and a mobile hospital to help.

A Sri Lankan rescue team left early Sunday for Nepal with the first contingent comprising 44 military personnel and four civil medical consultants. A search and rescue team from Singapore was also heading for the nation to assist with relief operations.

In parallel, the US Agency for International Development said an initial $1 million in aid to address immediate needs have been authorized and the same amount of assistance in relief funds has also been pledged by South Korean Red Cross. Australia and New Zealand together offered more than $4.5 million.

The Kathmandu airport, which was shut down for hours following Saturday's devastating tremor, has reopened for the arrival of foreign aids.

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