Rescue workers today intensified efforts to locate survivors trapped under tonnes of rubble of flattened homes and buildings in earthquake-hit Nepal amid concerns that death toll could rise from more than 4,000 with rescue teams reaching remote mountainous areas.
Racing against time, multi-national rescue teams with sniffer dogs and advanced equipment are desperately trying to locate survivors as hundreds of people are still missing.
More than 700 disaster relief experts drawn from the National Disaster Relief Force have been deployed by India.
In a statement, Nepalese police today said the death toll had risen to 3,617 people. That does not include the 22 people killed in the avalanche on Mount Everest.
Nepalese Home ministry’s national disaster management division said more than 6,830 people were injured.
1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone and 875 in Sindhupalchowk, it said.
Officials and aid agencies have warned that the casualties could rise as rescue teams reach remote mountainous areas of western Nepal.
“Villages 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,” aid agency World Vision spokesman Matt Darvas said.
The blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals along with fresh tremors are hampering rescue efforts to locate survivors of the Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude quake that had its impact in several cities in Bihar, West Bengal and UP northeast India.
It was also felt in Southern and Western parts of India, China, Bhutan and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Officials said five Indians, including the daughter of an Indian embassy employee, were among those killed in the quake.
Tens of thousands of people were forced to spend the two consecutive nights sleeping in open in makeshift plastic tents barely shielding them from the pouring rain. Fresh powerful aftershocks yesterday triggered panic among the stricken people and caused avalanches on Mount Everest which had taken a toll of 22 lives.
Mass cremations are being held here continuously. As the death toll rises, the authorities are working on disposing of the bodies as quickly as possible to prevent a health hazard.
Nepal has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster, the worst in over 80 years.
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.
A senior-level inter-ministerial team from India will visit Nepal to assess how India can better assist in the relief operations.
Aid flights are coming in continuously due to which Kathmandu airport is running out of parking bays. Many planes are having to wait before getting permission to land.
UN agencies say Nepal is running out of water and food and nearly one million children urgently need humanitarian assistance as they were particularly vulnerable.