The death toll in Nepal’s devastating earthquake today crossed 3,200 with another 6,000 people injured as rains and fresh tremors hampered rescue efforts to locate survivors trapped under tonnes of rubble of flattened homes and buildings.
“The death toll has reached 3,218 and over 6,500 are injured,” said Rameshwor Dangal, head of the home ministry’s national disaster management division.
Officials said five Indians, including the daughter of an Indian embassy employee, were among those killed in the quake.
With no electricity, capital Kathmandu resembled a ghost town with rains pounding the city, forcing the closure of the airport where chaotic scenes were witnessed with stranded foreign tourists desperate to go home.
Tens of thousands of people were forced to spend the night sleeping on city streets in makeshift plastic tents barely shielding them from the pouring rain.
“Still raining, adds to the misery. Only consolation is that it may ease the water crisis in some of the shelters,” Nepali Times Editor Kunda Dixit tweeted.
He said Nepal urgently needs tents and medicines.
Earlier, fresh powerful aftershocks yesterday triggered panic among the stricken people and caused avalanches on Mount Everest which had taken a toll of 22 lives.
A strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock followed by another measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale, sent people scrambling for open spaces.
The 7.9-magnitude quake on Saturday left a trail of devastation and suffering, with people spending the cold night in the open because of fears of fresh quake.
1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued. Mass cremations were held here with the toll rising throughout the day.
International rescue teams, including from India, have arrived here as Nepal declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster, the worst in over 80 years of the country’s recorded history.
India has mounted a major rescue and rehabilitation effort, deploying 13 military aircraft which carried field hospitals, medicines, blankets, 50 tonnes of water and other materials. More than 700 disaster relief experts drawn from the National Disaster Relief Force have been deployed by India.
A senior-level inter-ministerial team will visit Nepal to assess how India can better assist in the relief operations.
Rescuers have been hunting for survivors under heaps of debris with bare hands as well as heavy equipment though the efforts have been hampered due to fresh tremors, thunderstorms and snowfall in the mountain ranges.
Locals and tourists sifted through mounds of debris for survivors. Cheers rose when people were found alive, though mostly bodies were pulled out.
Like many other areas of Nepal, Kathmandu is facing a colossal challenge of dealing with the devastation from the disaster.
Whole streets and squares were covered in rubble in the capital, with an estimated metropolitan area population of around 3 million residents.