World | Asia

April 27, 2015

Death Toll in Nepal Surges Amid Hunt for Survivors

As rescuers desperately searched for survivors who may be buried amid the rubble in the Nepalese capital of Katmandu or trapped in remote mountain villages, officials announced that more than 3,700 people are now confirmed dead after the earthquake that struck Saturday.

The death toll could rise further after officials are able to assess the damage to the communities nestled within the country's mountains. Efforts to reach those villages have so far been hampered by landslides that have blocked many mountain trails.

Matt Darvas, a member of the aid group World Vision, told the Associated Press that many of those villages will only be accessible by helicopter. Police in Nepal on Monday told the news agency that at least 3,617 people were confirmed dead.

The figure does not include the 18 people killed in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake that buried part of the base camp at Mount Everest, or the 61 people killed in India and 20 reported dead in Tibet.

"Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls," Darvas told the AP.

The magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal Saturday, toppling buildings in the impoverished nation's capital of Katmandu and triggering the avalanche.

Climbers from around the globe travel to scale Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, and among the 18 people killed in the avalanche there were Google executive Daniel Fredinburg, who was part of a team from the firm attempting to create a Google street map of the trek to Everest Base Camp, and Marisa Eve Girawong, an emergency room physician's assistant serving as a base camp doctor for the Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering expedition company.

Climber Carsten Pederson, who survived the avalanche that hit the base camp, told CNN that he witnessed people try to flee the rush of ice and snow.

"They were trying to outrun the avalanche and you cannot," CNN quoted Pederson as saying. "So many people were hit from behind, blown off the mountain, blown into rocks, hit by debris, tents were flying off."

Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam said Monday that Nepal's death toll had risen to 3,218 people. In addition, at least 18 people died in the avalanche on Mount Everest, another 61 were killed in India and 20 more people were reported dead in Tibet.

Officials say more than 100 aftershocks have rocked Katmandu since Saturday, including one that was magnitude 6.7, impeding the rescue work. Thousands of people have been driven to sleep out in the open having either lost their homes or fearing an already damaged structure might collapse on top of them.

Hundreds are trying to flee the terror of the city, jamming the the roads out of town.

"We are escaping," Krishna Muktari, a small grocery-store owner told Reuters. "How can you live here? I have got children, they can't be rushing out of the house all night."

The hospitals are overwhelmed by the number of injured and are running low on supplies, as well as running out of room for the tragic number of corpses. Many areas of the city are without power or water and food supplies are running low.

International assistance has begun to arrive as government agencies and aid groups rush doctors, volunteers and equipment into Katmandu's reopened international airport.

 

Text by USA Today
 

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