Quake-aid need acute in Nepal capital, more so in villages near epicenter

Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal’s earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families’ needs.

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal’s earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families’ needs. In much of the countryside, it was worse, though how much worse was only beginning to become apparent.

The official overall death toll soared past 4,000, even without a full accounting from vulnerable mountain villages that rescue workers were still struggling to reach two days after the disaster.

Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district, where Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake was centred, 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 per cent of the houses have been destroyed,” he said.

Aid group World Vision said its staff members were able to reach Gorkha, but gathering information from the villages remained a challenge. Even when roads are clear, the group said, some remote areas can be three days’ walk from Gorkha’s main disaster centre.

Some roads and trails have been blocked by landslides, the group said in an email to The Associated Press. “In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment.”

Timalsina said 223 people had been confirmed dead in Gorkha district but he presumed “the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured.” He said his district had not received enough help from the central government, but Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue operations.

“We have 90 per cent of the army out there working on search and rescue,” he said. “We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives.”

Saturday’s earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.

Aid is coming from more than a dozen countries and many charities, but Lila Mani Poudyal, the government’s chief secretary and the rescue co-ordinator, said Nepal needed more.

He said the recovery was also being slowed because many workers — water tanker drivers, electricity company employees and labourers needed to clear debris — “are all gone to their families and staying with them, refusing to work.”

“We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines that the health department is seeking that we desperately need now,” Poudyal told reporters. “We don’t have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped.”

As people are pulled from the wreckage, he noted, even more help is needed.

“Now we especially need orthopedic (doctors), nerve specialists, anaesthetists, surgeons and paramedics,” he said. “We are appealing to foreign governments to send these specialized and smart teams.”

About 7,180 people were injured in the quake, police said. Poudyal estimated that tens of thousands of people had been left homeless. “We have been under severe stress and pressure, and have not been able to reach the people who need help on time,” he said.

The arrival of relief flights has caused major backups at Kathmandu’s small airport.

Four Indian air force aircraft carrying aid supplies and rescue personnel were forced to return to New Delhi on Monday because of airport congestion, Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said. India planned to resend the planes later Monday night when the situation was expected to have eased.

Nepal police said on their Facebook page that the country’s death toll had risen to 3,904 people. That does not include the 18 people killed in the avalanche, which were counted by the mountaineering association. Another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India, and China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 people dead in Tibet.

Well over 1,000 of the victims were in Kathmandu, the capital, where an eerie calm prevailed Monday.

Tens of thousands of families slept outdoors for a second night, fearful of aftershocks that have not ceased. Camped in parks, open squares and a golf course, they cuddled children or pets against chilly Himalayan nighttime temperatures.

They woke to the sound of dogs yelping and jackhammers. As the dawn light crawled across toppled building sites, volunteers and rescue workers carefully shifted broken concrete slabs and crumbled bricks mixed together with humble household items: pots and pans; a purple notebook decorated with butterflies; a framed poster of a bodybuilder; so many shoes.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s too much to think about,” said 55-year-old Bijay Nakarmi, mourning his parents, whose bodies recovered from the rubble of what once was a three-story building.

He could tell how they died from their injuries. His mother was electrocuted by a live wire on the roof top. His father was cut down by falling beams on the staircase.

He had last seen them a few days earlier — on Nepal’s Mothers’ Day — for a cheerful family meal.

“I have their bodies by the river. They are resting until relatives can come to the funeral,” Nakarmi said as workers continued searching for another five people buried underneath the wreckage.

Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said tents and water were being handed out Monday at 10 locations in Kathmandu, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery. The largest, on Sunday, was magnitude 6.7.

“There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them,” he said.

“We don’t feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn’t stop,” said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent Sunday with his niece’s family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple.

Acrid, white smoke rose above the Hindu temple, Nepal’s most revered. “I’ve watched hundreds of bodies burn,” Dhungana said.

The capital city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings. The earthquake destroyed swaths of the oldest neighbourhoods, but many were surprised by how few modern structures collapsed in the quake.

On Monday morning, some pharmacies and shops for basic provisions opened while bakeries began offering fresh bread. Huge lines of people desperate to secure fuel lined up outside gasoline pumps, though prices were the same as they were before the earthquake struck.

With power lines down, spotty phone connections and almost no Internet connectivity, residents were particularly anxious to buy morning newspapers.

Pierre-Anne Dube, a 31-year-old from Canada, has been sleeping on the sidewalk outside a hotel. She said she’s gone from the best experience of her life, a trek to Everest base camp, to the worst, enduring the earthquake and its aftermath.

“We can’t reach the embassy. We want to leave. We are scared. There is no food. We haven’t eaten a meal since the earthquake and we don’t have any news about what’s going on,” she said.

The earthquake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan. Nepal’s worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

The quake has put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

Just Posted

The Sylvan Lake Gulls celebrate a sixth inning home run from Nolan Weger on Sunday during a game against the Edmonton Prospects. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Historic opening weekend for Sylvan Lake Gulls

It wasn’t perfect, but perhaps that was the beauty of it. Fans… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Fatal ATV rollover near Innisfail Saturday

A 77-year-old man from Red Deer County died Saturday after an ATV… Continue reading

Firefighters and emergency services workers helped celebrate Barry Young’s 85th birthday at Timberstone Mews on May 29. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters in central Alberta make birthdays special

A fire truck arriving outside your house is not normally good news.… Continue reading

A view of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is shown in this undated handout photo. More Canadians are expected to leave their passports at home this summer and hit the road in Canada as the weak loonie and low gas prices prompt a deeper exploration of their own country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Travel Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Report: Alberta losing residents to other parts of Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly winds down in Alberta, residents are continuing… Continue reading

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Germany's Robin Gosens, left, celebrates Germany's Mats Hummels after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the football arena stadium in Munich, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Matthias Hangst/Pool Photo via AP)
Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

MUNICH (AP) — Germany finally clicked into gear at the European Championship,… Continue reading

Fans cheer on their team during the pre-game warmup of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal with the Montreal Canadiens facing the Vegas Golden Knights, in Montreal, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
COVID-19 concerns give way to Habs Fever in Quebec as Montreal continues playoff run

MONTREAL — The sun hadn’t yet risen in Montreal on Friday morning… Continue reading

Coronavirus cases are on the rise from India to South Africa and Mexico, in a May 19, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
As Brazil tops 500,000 deaths, protests against president

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Anti-government protesters took to the streets in… Continue reading

A black bear cub forages for food along a salmon stream below a bear viewing spot for tourists in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau, Alaska.  (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Bandit responsible for vehicle break-ins is a black bear

THORNTON, N.H. (AP) — Surveillance video helped police get to the bottom… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Editor Rick Hutzell, center, gives a speech to his staff including Chase Cook, Nicki Catterlin, Rachael Pacella, Selene San Felice and Danielle Ohl at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper. Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis paper for more than three decades, authored a farewell column that was published on the paper's website Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Ulysses Muoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Editor of paper that endured newsroom shooting says goodbye

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won… Continue reading

Most Read