By Anil Giri,
Kathmandu : Nepal on Sunday told the international community to urgently step up its earthquake relief as the toll from the April 25 temblor rose to 7,250, with 2.8 million people displaced across the Himalayan nation.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told a top UN official here that relief goods reaching the country were not enough and that the world must speed up its efforts to help his battered nation.
The Nepal Army, which is coordinating the massive rescue and search operations, also said international aid had not arrived in the manner Kathmandu needed to face its worst natural disaster since 1934.
The SOS came amid the home ministry’s latest estimates that the deadly quake had affected over eight million people, with 3.5 million in desperate need of food assistance.
Tents, mats, blankets, contraceptives, squatting pans, dust bins, utensils — Nepal has sent out an updated list of what it needs following the earthquake.
According to the ministry of home affairs, the number of injured stands at 14,121.
The toll in Sindhupalchok, the worst affected district, was 2,829. It is followed by Kathmandu at 1,194, Nuwakot 798, Gorkha 410, Kavre 311 and Rasuwa at 306.
A total of 41,233 houses have been destroyed, while 149,659 have sustained severe damage, the ministry said.
At least 10,477 government buildings turned to rubble, while 14,188 others were partially damaged.
According to officials, Nepal’s immediate requirement also includes mattresses, pillows, bed sheets, mobile toilets, fire extinguishers, lamps (preferably solar), emergency lights and cooking stoves.
The country is also seeking water purifiers, sanitation and first aid kits, food and over 150 drugs and surgical items.
Around one million people have left Kathmandu, one of the worst affected places, following the disaster, officials told IANS.
Although a semblance of normal life can be seen in some parts of Kathmandu, much of the city and indeed the country are still carrying the scars of the killer quake.
To add to the woes, three tremors were recorded on Sunday in different parts of Nepal. The biggest was 4.5 on the Richter scale. Though officials are asking people not to worry, every aftershock triggers fear.
The biggest worry for the authorities is how to distribute relief among the tens of thousands left without food in several areas outside of Kathmandu.
Those who survived and living in the open are struggling to get food and goods of daily use due to the mass exodus of traders from the capital.
On Sunday, public transport resumed services. Other vehicles were also seen.
Life in major parts of the capital like New Road, Baneshwor, Koteshwor and Maharajgunj appeared normal but not in Bhaktapur which saw many deaths and widespread destruction.
Sita Tamang, who does small business around Dharahara area of Kathmandu that was severely damaged in the quake, told IANS that she has no choice but to restart her small business on the footpath.
Thousands who fled their homes after the quake and began living in open spaces have started returning to their houses.
But those whose houses were severely damaged or destroyed are still out in the open. There are 24,000 such people in Kathmandu.
Hospitals are overcrowded with the injured. Doctors continue to treat them in the open due to shortage of beds. Some hospitals suffered cracks in the quake.
“We have provided free treatment to the injured,” a health ministry official said.
The Nepali capital’s civic body, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, on Sunday started garbage collection. It also distributed 100,200 litres of drinking water besides gloves and masks to those in the worst affected areas.
But lack of coordination among the national and international aid agencies has hampered the relief distribution.
The government request that money must be donated to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund has irked many.
Security agencies from Nepal, India and China continued their search and rescue work on Sunday. Officials fear that hundreds of bodies are yet to be pulled out from beneath tonnes of rubble.