Nepal quake toll at 6,624 as hopes dashed for more survivors
As the death toll of Nepal’s devastating quake climbs to 6,624 with over 14,000 reported injured by the latest official count, authorities rule out the possibility of pulling out any more survivors from the rubble.
“The death toll has reached 6,624,” said the Nepalese Home Ministry’s national disaster management division in a Saturday statement, adding that an additional 14,025 were wounded in the strong tremor.
Additionally, more than 100 people were also killed in neighboring India and China.
The 7.9-magnitude earthquake last Saturday has caused massive destruction and suffering as many people continue to spend the cold nights in the open due to fears of more aftershocks.
Meanwhile, Nepalese authorities on Saturday ruled out the possibility of discovering any more survivors amid the rubble of the country’s deadliest quake in more than 80 years that devastated huge swathes of one of Asia’s poorest nations.
More than one week on since the the strong temblor, hopes of detecting more signs of life amidst the ruins of the nation’s capital of Kathmandu has faded with the focus now being turned to reaching survivors in out-lying areas that have not yet received relief aid.
“It has already been one week since the disaster,” said Nepal’s Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal as cited in an AFP report. “We are trying our best in rescue and relief work, but now I don’t think that there is any possibility of survivors under the rubble,” she added.
While multiple teams of rescuers from over 20 countries have been using sniffer dogs and heat-seeking devices to locate survivors in the rubble, no one has been pulled alive since Thursday evening.
This is while the exact scale of the disaster has not yet emerged as the mountainous terrain in the vast Himalayan nation is seriously complicating relief efforts.
While the Nepalese government has acknowledged being overwhelmed by the extent of the destruction, the UN’s humanitarian chief defended its performance.
Funeral pyres of earthquake victims burn on the banks of the Bagmati river at the Pasupathinath temple in Kathmandu on May 1, 2015. (©AFP)
“The scale and devastation wreaked by the earthquake and the aftershocks would have challenged any government,” Valerie Amos emphasized on Friday.
Moreover, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said the health and wellbeing of children affected by the disaster were “hanging in the balance” as so many had been left homeless, in deep shock and with no access to basic care.
“Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open. This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases,” said UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nepal Rownak Khan.
“We have a small window of time to put in place measures that will keep earthquake-affected children safe from infectious disease outbreaks, a danger that would be exacerbated by the wet and muddy conditions brought on with the rains,” added Khan.
Meanwhile, the numbers of foreigners killed by the quake also remains unclear with nearly 1,000 European Union (EU) citizens reported unaccounted for in Nepal, according to diplomats.
The Europeans had mostly been climbing in the Everest region or trekking in the remote Langtang range in the Himalayas near the earthquake’s epicenter.
“They are missing, but we don’t know what their status is,” EU ambassador to Nepal Rensje Teerink said in a press briefing, confirming that 12 EU citizens are known to have died so far.