Kathmandu: 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 to 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 on Monday desperately sought international help to tide over the situation.
Rains and a powerful aftershock late tonight 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.
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 today 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.
1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone and 875 in Sindhupalchowk.
Air services to Kathmandu return to normal
Air services to quake-devastated Nepalese capital Kathmandu from India returned to normal on Monday but shortage of parking bays at the airport was preventing the carriers to operate more flights to evacuate stranded people.
Jet Airways, meanwhile, said it will waive off freight charges for shipment of relief material on board its flights to Kathmandu.
Air India and SpiceJet were able to operate only one extra flight each in addition to their scheduled services. “Air India was able to operate four flights to Kathmandu today. Of these, three were from Delhi and one from Varanasi.
The three lights together ferried a total of 361 rescued travellers back to the country,” Air India said in a release.
The airline said it had planned to fly seven flights in all but could not accomplish the target due to paucity of parking bays at Tribhuvan International Airport, which impacted landing of flights and transportation of relief material.
The airline said it had also operated two flights from Kolkata to Kathmandu but had to return after hovering over Kathmandu skies for more than 90 minutes due to the non-availability of parking bays.
UNHRC rushes aid to Nepal
The United Nations refugee agency announced that it is rushing critical supplies to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake that has killed over 4,000 people and injured thousands more, as it pledged to provide all assistance needed to help survivors.
“We are deeply saddened that thousands of people have been killed, injured or displaced in the disaster. These numbers are still rising with frequent aftershocks and as search and rescue teams reach remote areas,” Director of the Asia-Pacific bureau of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Daisy Dell said.
“UNHCR stands in solidarity with Nepal, which has been a generous host to thousands of refugees over the years,” she added.
The agency is sending 11,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar lanterns from its warehouse in Damak, eastern Nepal, to the eastern hilly districts of Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga and Sindhuli. An additional 8,000 plastic sheets and 4,000 solar lamps are being flown to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, from Dubai via a cargo plane.
UNHCR will also be providing tarpaulins, which will help shelter earthquake victims whose homes have been destroyed or who are too afraid of aftershocks to return home. In view of the electricity shortage, UNHCR hopes that the solar lamps can provide some light in the affected areas and help to charge mobile phones at a time when families need to communicate urgently.
Following Nepal quake, Delhi tests disaster preparedness
After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, Delhi government on Monday decided to conduct mock drills to check preparedness of the government agencies to deal with disasters and also chalked out a disaster management plan having broad guidelines.
The move comes after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today held a review meeting to discuss the preparedness of the national capital in dealing with natural and man-made disasters.
According to senior government officials, the government has prepared state disaster management plan and district disaster management plans are also being prepared for all the eleven district.