May 25, 2019 | Updated: 10:06 PM EDT

Aid Arrives in Nepal: Who Was First on the Scene

Apr 27, 2015 09:04 PM EDT


In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, International rescue and relief teams have begun to converge on Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.  Rescuers continue to poor in to the city even as hope fades that more survivors will be found.  The quake that hit on Saturday has now been reported to have claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people.

The airport in the area was so congested with military planes that one attempt to land a plane carrying members of Japan's national search and rescue team circled until it had to be rerouted to Kolkata for refueling.  A second attempt also proved futile, forcing the plan to return to Kolkata.  Once on the ground, the 292 passengers were told that all the available hotel rooms had been taken and the flight must be returned to Bangkok, where it originated.

Passengers from Nepal said they have received text messages from friends and family describing the chaos in the wake of the earthquake and its aftershocks.  The airport has been overrun with Indian nationals hoping to get a space on the evacuation flights.

Authorities in Nepal have begun carrying out mass cremations of victims, even though rescuers still continue to pull bodies from the rubble.  Communication is also down in some, more rural areas, raising concerns that the number of people killed could rise once authorities reach those areas.

Dr. Ramesh Guragain, Deputy Executive Director of the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) in Nepal, told VOA that medical support as well as search and rescue help are needed.

"So far, the search and rescue is limited only to Kathmandu valley," said he.

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," Aryal said.

Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district, where Saturday's quake was centered, 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 percent of the houses have been destroyed,'' he said.

Lila Mani Poudyal, Nepal's chief secretary, appealed again to the international community for urgent help, saying they need everything including dry goods, tents, paramedics and expert teams to cope with the disaster.  Poudyal said that many needed to help with the disaster have gone home to their families and are refusing to work slowing the recovery.

Disaster response teams from many different countries, including the United States, have deployed to the region to help with search, rescue and recovery.

Saturday's earthquake was the strongest in 81 years in Nepal, when an even stronger quake struck the area in 1934 killing more than 10,000 people.

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