The Latest on Nepal: Race against time to deliver supplies

AP News
Posted: Apr 30, 2015 12:44 AM
The Latest on Nepal: Race against time to deliver supplies

10 a.m. (0415 GMT)

In quake-wracked Nepal, everyone who is able is joining the aid effort.

The 32-year-oid Narayan Thapa was working at a tire factory in Gorkha town when the earthquake destroyed his village of Bungkot, around 45 kilometers (28 miles) away.

"Everything is destroyed. Not even one home is standing. We think there is still one person dead under the rubble," Thapa said.

Thapa and his friends are scrambling to find a four-wheel vehicle to carry the medicine and food they've cobbled together to the village.

"People are hungry there, they are suffering. I'm doing whatever I can to help," he said.

Among those in desperate need of supplies in Bungkot, with a population of about 300, are Thapa's parents, wife and daughter.

"My friends are helping me. Everyone is doing whatever they can. We managed to send a little bit yesterday. My family — they're relying on me. There is no food. They are in trouble there," Thapa said.

— Katy Daigle in Gorkha, Nepal


9 a.m. (0315 GMT)

Despite a steady morning drizzle, hundreds of people are lining up in central Kathmandu hoping to get on government-run bus service so they can visit their homes in remote parts of the quake-hit country.

"I have to get out of here, I have to get home. It has already been so many days," said Shanti Kumari, a housewife, heading to join the line with her 7-year-old daughter. Kumari, a Kathmandu resident, said she was desperate to check on her family in her village in eastern Nepal. "I want to get at least a night of peace," she said.

Over the past few days, the government has been running school buses free of charge for people wishing to travel to remote villages, worst-hit by Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

Five days after the quake, tents at the Tudikhel grounds, in the heart of Kathmandu, thinned out by Thursday morning. Overnight rainfall forced people to return to their homes, many of which were damaged in the quake.

Nepal's weather office predicted rain all day Thursday, with the weather was expected to improve later in the day or Friday.

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


7:45 a.m. (0200 GMT)

Police in Nepal say the death toll from Saturday's earthquake has topped 5,500.

The Kathmandu police say 5,489 have died and another 11,440 people have been injured in Nepal.

The quake that was centered just outside Kathmandu also triggered an avalanche that killed at least 19 people at the Everest base camp.

Another 61 were killed in neighboring India and Bangladesh, and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet.

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


12:07 a.m. (1822 GMT)

Chinese authorities have closed all climbing on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest for the spring.

Meanwhile, some climbers in Nepal have announced plans to try to return to the mountain, a move that was criticized by others in the climbing community.

No one climbing on the north side was injured following Saturday's deadly quake. But climbing guide Adrian Ballinger says Chinese officials announced their decision to end the climbing season.

Ballinger said two reasons were cited: Safety concerns over possible additional earthquakes and solidarity with Nepal and the Sherpas.

China reported has 25 deaths in Tibet from the quake.


11:46 p.m. (1758 GMT)

President Barack Obama has spoken to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala of Nepal to express sympathy over the thousands of deaths and vast destruction.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the two leaders discussed U.S. military and civilian efforts already underway to help Nepal and international aid groups in their emergency rescue and response.

They discussed the ongoing efforts by U.S. civilian and military personnel to assist the government of Nepal and international organizations in the disaster response efforts, including provision of rescue and logistics support.


8 p.m. (1415 GMT)

The Nepal Mountaineering Association has increased to 19 the number of fatalities from the avalanche on Mount Everest.

It said Wednesday that five of the dead were foreign climbers and 14 were Nepalese Sherpa guides.

The avalanche triggered by Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake also injured dozens of people when it swept through base camp, knocking over tents and people.

The association said 10 Sherpas have been identified. The Americans were Daniel Fredinburg and Marisa Eve Girawong, and the other foreigners were Ge Zhenfang from China, Renu Fotedar from Australia and Hiroshi Yamagata from Japan.

All climbers have now left Everest, ending the climbing season early for the second year. Last year, climbs were cancelled after 16 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche while hauling gear between camps.

Hundreds of people attempt to scale the world's tallest mountain each year, and Nepal earns significant income from the permit fees.

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


7:30 p.m. (1345 GMT)

The tiny hamlets clinging to the mountainsides of Gorkha District were ravaged by the earthquake. But lives were spared.

Entire clusters of homes are piles of stone and splintered wood. Orange plastic tarps now dot the cliffs and terraced rice paddies carved into the Himalayan land.

But the death toll in villages like Gumda was far lower than feared. The quake on Saturday struck at midday, and many people were working outdoors in the rural region in spring.

Of Gumda's 1,300 residents, five were killed in the quake and 20 more were injured. The official overall toll as of Wednesday evening exceeded 5,100 in Nepal, India and Tibet.

— Katy Daigle, Gumda, Nepal


7:15 p.m. (1330 GMT)

The United Nations is appealing for $415 million to provide for vital needs in Nepal over the next three months.

It intends to support government efforts in provide shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food, and protection.

The U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Nepal, Jamie McGoldrick, said the response to date was encouraging, but those efforts need to be maintained, especially in remote areas.

He noted that the coming monsoon season would like add a logistical challenge to relief efforts, adding to the urgency.


6:45 p.m. (1300 GMT)

Helicopters have rescued some 210 foreign trekkers and local villagers stranded in the Lantang area north of Nepal's capital.

The international trekkers were stranded in Langtang, a popular trekking route bordering Tibet, since the earthquake on Saturday that killed more than 5,000 people.

Government administrator Gautam Rimal said the trekkers and villagers were flown to the nearby town of Dhunche. But with landslides cutting off the roads from there to Kathmandu, the trekkers will have to trudge for at least four hours before they can board a bus to the Nepalese capital.

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


6 p.m. (1215 GMT)

The number of people missing after a mudslide struck a village in central Nepal appears to be lower than first thought.

The government had said Tuesday that 250 people were missing after a mudslide and avalanche hit the village of Ghodatabela near the quake epicenter.

Government administrator Gautam Rimal said on Wednesday, however, "We believe now there are only a few people who were swept by the mudslide."

Authorities withdrew the figure of 250 after getting more information from local residents, but Rimal didn't have an amended figure.

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


4 p.m. (1015 GMT)

Nepalese rescue helicopters are taking advantage of breaks in the rain to bring out the injured from remote mountain villages where aid is only beginning to trickle in, four days after the massive earthquake.

A rescue mission on Wednesday landed in the village of Darkha, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the capital, Kathmandu, and unloaded boxes of aid supplies. Nepalese soldiers disembarked and carried back on a stretcher the 69-year-old Ek Bahadur Thapa and others in need of treatment.

He suffered leg injuries and has had to wait for medical care.

The government says more than 10,000 people were injured.

— Upendra Mansingh, Darkha, Nepal


3 p.m. (0915 GMT)

The first 44 Spaniards who were stranded in Nepal have returned home on an air force plane with Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo accompanying them.

The group is the first of some 127 to be evacuated by the government. About 500 Spaniards were affected by the earthquake and 103 have yet to be located. More than 20 were able to return by their own means.

A second Spanish plane was due to bring back another group of Spaniards as well as other European and Latin American citizens later Wednesday.

The quake occurred while Margallo was on an official visit to New Delhi.

— Ciaran Giles, Madrid


2:30 p.m. (0845 GMT)

In another sign of life inching back to normal, banks in Kathmandu opened for few hours Wednesday and stuffed their ATMs with cash. At the Standard Chartered Bank in the city, people are lining up.

"I needed money in cash so I can take my family out of Kathmandu. I want to be out of here for at least a few days," said Suraj Shrestha.

He wasn't sure if ATMs outside the city were dispensing cash and wanted to carry "as much as possible."

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal


12:05 p.m. (0620 GMT)

About 200 people have blocked traffic in Kathmandu to protest the slow pace of aid delivery.

The protesters faced off with police and there were minor scuffles but no arrests were made.

One protester says they haven't received any relief.

"We are hungry, we haven't had anything to drink. We haven't been able to sleep. I have a 7-year-old child who is sleeping in the open. It's getting cold and people are getting pneumonia," he said.

He accused the government of not doing enough.

The death toll has climbed to 5,093 and more than 8 million people have been affected.

— Jerry Harmer, Kathmandu, Nepal