‘Nepal quake death toll may hit 10,000’
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has warned that death toll from the recent devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in his country could soar to as many as 10,000 as rescue teams reach far-flung villages and towns.
“The death toll could go up to 10,000 because information from remote villages hit by the earthquake is yet to come in,” Koirala said.
“The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing. It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal,” he said.
The prime minister went on to say that the government has set the search for the missing and treatment of the injured as it top priorities.
Koirala also declared a three-day national mourning in memory of those killed in the April 25 natural disaster.
Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center said on Tuesday that the death toll had soared to 5,057 and that nearly 11,000 people were injured in the quake.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that some 8 million people have been affected by the disaster, more than 1.4 million people are in urgent need of food supplies and tens of thousands have been left homeless.
The world body has announced plans to release $15 million from an emergency response fund to help quake-stricken people in Nepal.
Amid the destruction and chaos, fuel is running low in the country and cars are lined up at gas stations in parts of the capital, Kathmandu. Households are relying on generators, and cell phone network outages are also common.
The World Food Program (WFP) has said that, in addition to its aid operations, it is providing logistics, telecommunications, and air transport, which would cost $34 million over the next three months.
The powerful earthquake also killed 61 people in neighboring India, and 25 in China’s autonomous Tibet region. Eighteen others were killed in avalanches on Mount Everest.
Meanwhile, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal Jamie McGoldrick says there are already enough foreign search and rescue teams in and around Kathmandu.
“They (Nepalese officials) feel they have enough capacity to deal with the immediate needs in search and rescue. Those that are already en route can come but the others are being told not to,” he said.