Quake toll crosses 4,000 in Nepal, 72 in India
Kathmandu/NEW DELHI: Crisis loomed over quake-hit Nepal on Monday following shortage of food, water, electricity and medicines as fear drove tens of thousands of people out into the open and the death toll soared past 4,000 amidst fears that it could touch 5,000.
Scrambling to put together massive rescue and relief efforts, the country hit by the worst quake in 80 years desperately sought international help to tide over the situation.
Rains and a powerful aftershock late night sent a fresh wave of panic on Monday after the Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude quake had flattened thousands of homes and buildings, leaving about 7,000 injured and scores missing.
The toll in India following Saturday’s earthquake has gone up to 72, with Bihar accounting for 56 deaths, a top official said on Monday.
Home Secretary LC Goyal, addressing the media at a joint press conference with Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, said 12 people died in Uttar Pradesh following the earthquake.
A well-known Telugu movie choreographer, 21-year-old Vijay, was killed in a road accident in rain and aftershock of the temblor in the early hours of on Monday when his film unit was on its way to Kathmandu.
Seven women from Assam were also feared killed in the quake on Saturday. More than 48 hours after the 7.9 magnitude temblor shook the Himalayan nation, multi-nation rescue teams, including from India, carried out relief work.
Armed with modern equipment, dumpers and earth removers and aided by sniffer dogs, disaster relief workers were trying to locate possible survivors against fading hopes.
The quake that flattened homes and buildings and the subsequent powerful aftershocks forced people out to live in the open under plastic tents, barely shielding them from cold and rains that have pounded the city. Fuel and medicines were also in short supply.
The picture was the same in suburbs of Kathmandu and in other rural areas. Nepal’s top bureaucrat Leela Mani Paudel said the immediate and big challenge was relief.
“We urge foreign countries to give us special relief materials and medical teams. We are really desperate for more foreign expertise to pull through this crisis,” he said.
“We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines that we desperately need now,” he told a press conference.
Hundreds of people are still trapped under tonnes of rubble in capital Kathmandu and some of the worst-affected remote mountainous areas amid concerns that toll could cross 5,000 mark, authorities said. The death toll in Nepal from the earthquake has risen to around 4,010, officials said.