At least 9 from Mich. listed as missing in Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal – — As the death toll from Nepal’s massive earthquake passed 4,200 Monday, survivors of the disaster in the capital struggled to cope with shortages of electricity, gasoline, water, cash and sanitary facilities. Phone and Internet links remained spotty at best.
How many more victims of the tragedy remained to be discovered was unclear, though Nepalese authorities estimated that the number of dead could surpass 8,000 and said the tally of injured stood at more than 7,500. At least nine people from Michigan are listed among the missing.
Forty-eight hours after the huge temblor, rescue and relief workers had yet to reach numerous remote mountain villages. Reports trickling in from some hamlets suggested that in some areas, 70 percent or more of the homes had been reduced to heaps of rubble.
Schools remained closed, most businesses were shuttered, banks were not open, and ATMs lacked electricity to dispense cash. Long lines of motorcycles and cars formed at gas stations that had fuel.
Nepal is prone to earthquakes but Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat acknowledged that the government wasn’t prepared to respond to a disaster of this scale.
“Our system wasn’t prepared to fix a problem of this magnitude, but the government is doing the best it can with the resources on our disposal,” Mahat told state-run Radio Nepal. “All our helicopters are occupied with the rescue, so it is difficult to fly the relief materials to remote areas.”
Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudel said at a news conference that Nepal urgently needs tents, medical teams specialized in orthopedics and collapsed-structure rescue and search teams.
Minister of Information Minendra Rijal said 308 people had been rescued by helicopters, and that authorities were trying to send more helicopters into remote areas.
Sanjeev Bikram Rana, executive director of the Katmandu Water Supply Management Board, said the entire Katmandu Valley was reeling under drinking water shortages due to power cuts and severe damage to pipes.
“We are now working with private water tankers to mobilize our resources in providing safe drinking water to people who have been taking refuge in the open areas around the valley,” he said.
By late Monday, the death toll in Nepal stood at 4,264, according to the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
Four Americans were reported to be among at least 17 people killed when an avalanche triggered by the earthquake roared through a base camp used by climbers preparing to scale Mount Everest. The State Department on Monday confirmed the identities of two of them, Thomas Taplin and Vinh Truong.
At least 69 people were reported killed in India and 25 in China’s Tibet region.
Uvad Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district near the epicenter of the quake, told the Associated Press that 223 people in his area were confirmed dead and people were not getting adequate food or shelter from the government. He expected the toll to rise as thousands were injured.
Although aid workers are able to reach the district, some remote villages are only accessible by foot and landslides have blocked the way, said Sanjay Karki, the Nepal country director for the Portland, Ore.-based Mercy Corps.
“Some you need to walk two days, some hours to get to,” he said. “It’s high hills, with very difficult geographical terrain.”
Government authorities said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue and relief operations.
In Kathmandu, thousands of people whose homes were destroyed or damaged — or were simply too afraid to return home amid continuing aftershocks — camped out at Tudikhel, a wide expanse of green in the center of the capital.