Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Disaster: Above 3500 Killed, Fresh Tremors Rattles India, Nepal, Relief Operations In Full Swing, Himalayan Avalanche Killed 300, Many Missing

SPECIAL REPORT: Fresh strong aftershock hit Nepal and parts of north India, a day after the Himalayan nation was hit by an earthquake of magnitude of 7.9. It triggered another avalanche in the HImalayas.

The United States Geological Survey said the tremor was 6.7 magnitude, less than the 7.9 quake that struck the region killing at least 3,500 people. Parts of north and east India too experienced the tremors. Experts have said that more aftershocks may follow for a few days. A total fo 35 aftershocks have hit the Himalayan region so far.

The death toll in Nepal from the devastating earthquake mounted to 3,500 today as rescue efforts intensified, with international teams including from India sifting through tonnes of rubble in search of survivors in the Himalayan nation's worst temblor in over 80 years. Fresh aftershocks jolted Nepal and adjoining areas, as the country declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster caused by a powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake and over a dozen aftershocks that hit the country yesterday.

The earthquake and the aftershocks left behind a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital, trapping scores of people. Thousands of people spent last night in the open in chilly weather, anticipating more aftershocks.

The death toll touched 1,911 while the number of injured reached 4,627 till this morning, according to the Home Ministry. Around 1,000 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued.

Dozens of bodies have been taken to hospitals here, many of which are struggling to cope with the number of injured. As many as 17 Mount Everest climbers, including foreigners, were reportedly killed in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake, the worst in over 80 years of Nepal's recorded history. 

According to reports, the route to the base camp has been destroyed and the Indian Air Force choppers were trying to rescue the survivors, around 100 in number who were said to be safe. Two Indians, including the daughter of an Indian embassy employee, were among those killed in the powerful earthquake, an Indian embassy official said.

Two Indians, including the daughter of an Indian embassy employee, were among those killed in the powerful earthquake, an Indian embassy official said. A house in the Indian Embassy complex collapsed, killing the daughter of a CPWD employee. Death of another Indian was reported at Bir Hospital here. 

At least 17 bodies have been recovered at the base camp on Mount Everest where hundreds of climbers, including many foreigners, are stranded after an avalanche triggered by Nepal's massive earthquake slammed into a part of the camp on the world's highest peak. More than 60 climbers were injured and hundreds of foreign adventurers, hikers and guides at the base camp were feared missing when the avalanche swept down the Everest and buried under snow a section of the mountaineering camp yesterday.

Twenty-two of the most seriously injured climbers were today ferried by helicopters, including from the Indian Air Force, to Pheriche village, the nearest medical facility, though bad weather is hampering rescue and relief operations. There were more than 100 climbers also at camps 1 and 2 on Mount Everest, above the base camp, and all are reported safe, Nepal Mountaineering Association officials said today, adding it will take time before these people can be evacuated.

Hospitals in Nepal are reported to be struggling to cope with providing treatment to survivors of Saturday's earthquake, which has claimed the lives of  over 1900 people and injured another 4700.

The earthquake, said to be the worst in 81 years, has left a trail of devastation and shocked citizens and hospital authorities have confirmed that they are struggling to receive or give timely treatment. Reports said that medical supplies are short and patients with serious injuries are dying.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General OP Singh said that three more teams would be sent to Nepal in wake of the massive earthquake which has claimed over 1800 lives in the country till now. "We have already sent seven teams to Nepal and three more will be sent. Our first priority is to evacuate and rescue people buried under debris in Nepal. We have life detectors and other equipments," said Singh.

The Indian Government had earlier sent four aircrafts with NDRF teams to oversee rescue and relief operations and also set up a 24-hour control room for queries regarding the tragedy. The impact of the earthquake was felt in almost all northern states in India particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal.

Indian government announces compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to families of those who lost their lives in the quake across parts of India.

Nearly 550 Indians have been evacuated by the IAF from quake-hit Nepal even as India stepped up its relief and rescue mission with 10 flights and 12 helicopters scheduled to carry specialists and equipment to Kathmandu on Sunday.

Since 10:40 PM last night, four IAF aircraft have landed from Nepal with 546 Indians on board. The first aircraft to land was a C-130J with 55 passengers on board, including four infants, a defence spokesperson said today. Around midnight, a C-17 aircraft landed with 102 passengers which was followed by an IL 76 with 152.

Around 4 AM, a C17 landed with 237 passengers, all who were evacuated following the massive earthquake that has claimed over 1800 lives. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said Indian authorities have responded "very proactively, very swiftly and I think every agency, every stakeholder in India who matters in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Nepal in times of their need has been activated and the response has been exceptional".

The United States will send disaster response and rescue teams to Nepal and has authorized an initial $1 million in aid after a major earthquake killed hundreds in the mountainous Asian nation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday. "We are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support," he said in a statement.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said in a tweet it was working with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to launch a disaster response team and described the funding as an initial amount "to address immediate needs." 

A 62-member search and rescue team has left for Nepal to carry out humanitarian rescue there. With six sniffer dogs and relevant rescue and medical equipment, the team is expected to arrive in Kathmandu midday today on a chartered plane, the China Earthquake Administration said. Of the rescuers, 40 are from the 38th Group Army of the People's Liberation Army, Beijing Military Area Command.

Twenty percent of the experienced rescuers have participated in international rescue missions.

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday sent a message of condolence to Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav over the disastrous earthquake, worse in over 80 years of Nepal's recorded history. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, as well as in his own name, Xi offered his deep condolences to the victims in the earthquake, and offered sincere sympathies to those injured as well as to the families of the victims.

In his message, the Chinese president also expressed his confidence in the Nepalese government, under the leadership of Yadav, to combat the disaster and China's willingness to provide all necessary assistance. In Tibet the quake also damaged buildings and roads and cut off telecommunications in the two counties and several neighbouring regions. So far, roads leading to the two counties have been cleared, but rescue efforts are hampered by heavy snow in the area.

A rescue operation has been underway in Nepal by the Armed Police Force (Nepal) in the wake of the massive earthquake that struck Nepal and parts of northern India and locals have resorted to spend the night sleeping on roads after the calamity as a precaution. "We do not have any actual data about how many people are actually in this building. We can see that a boy is inside the building, so we are trying to rescue him. We have been working on this rescue mission since 1.00 pm. We have rescued 50 people so far," said Inspector Ram, Armed Police Force (Nepal).

"Under my command, there are 40 people. In this area, more than 250 Armed Police Disaster Management trainers are working for rescue," he added.

Locals spent the night on roads as their homes were destroyed due to the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the country. "After the earthquake, we were told by the media that there will be earthquakes again and again. We felt the earthquake three-four times. The first one was the longest which lasted about five minutes. We lost mobile network and there was no electricity," said Pradeep Ranawat, a local.

Indian Railway has dispatched one lakh rail neer water bottles to Kathmandu in earthquake-hit Nepal as relief material through the Indian Air Force (IAF). There are arrangements being made to provide one lakh rail neer bottles per day to help the rescue operations in Nepal.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu shared the information in a series of tweets. "Indian Railways has immediately dispatched 1 lakh Rail Neer mineral water bottles to Kathmandu through Airforce tonight".

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that Prime Minister Modi had indicated to President Ram Baran of Nepal and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala that India will do everything within its capabilities to be of help to the nation at this difficult moment. "We have set up a helpline in the ministry; the numbers have been put out. We would also request that if there are people who know that their relatives are in Nepal to send us their details. So, there is an e-mail address which is If anybody who would like to keep us informed about their relatives and give us their contact numbers that would be very helpful for us," he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has visited Nepal twice in his premiership, himself sat at the helm of affairs for stock taking and guiding the rescue efforts by chairing a high-level, crisis management meeting. The meeting was attended by union ministers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, national security advisor Ajit Doval, principal secretary Nripendra Misra, additional principal secretary PK Mishra and senior officials from IMD and NDRF.

By 8:30pm, four Indian Air Force transport planes — one C 31-J Super Hercules and two C-17 Globe Master, the biggest transport planes India has — had left for Kathmandu with at least 250 specialised National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and over 100 tonne of relief and rescue material.

The fourth plane, which left at 8:30pm from Hindon airbase near Delhi, carried a fully-equipped mobile hospital with a rapid action medical team comprising of nearly 30 doctors, including orthopedics, medicines and medical equipment. The plane will put in place a fully air-conditioned, 25-bed hospital with state-of-the-art facilities and highly skilled medical personnel to assist rescued people.

Not ready to leave anything to chance, the defence ministry readied its fourth, C-130 plane to take the rest of the necessary equipment to Kathmandu. This plane was to take-off at 9:30pm.

The earthquake hit around 11:56 am with epicentre at Lamjung, around 80 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu, had its impact in several cities of Bihar, West Bengal and UP, and tremors were felt across vast stretches of east and northeast India. It was also felt in Southern and Western parts of India, China, Bhutan and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Several buildings, most of them old, in the densely- populated Kathmandu Valley collapsed, killing hundreds. Over 200 bodies have been retrieved from the debris of two-century old nine-storey landmark Dharhara tower in the centre of the capital. Kathmandu's Darbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was completely damaged in the quake which was the worst to hit Nepal and surrounding regions after the earthquake of 8.4 magnitude which occurred along the Nepal-Bihar border in 1934.

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