Nepal earthquake death toll at 7,500 as help reaches isolated villages

‘What they are seeing is entire towns and villages where every house and public building has collapsed’

The death toll from the earthquake in Nepal has passed 7,500, with thousands injured, and the casualty figures are still rising as rescue teams reach isolated villages. Food and shelter provision remains the priority for humanitarian agencies helping victims of the quake.

Trócaire, which is working with the Caritas network of humanitarian agencies in Nepal, says its teams are operating to the west of the capital, Kathmandu.

“What they are seeing is entire towns and villages where every house and public building has collapsed. Thousands of people are sleeping outdoors and are completely exposed to the elements. We are moving shelters into those regions but the situation there remains dire, even well over a week after the earthquake,” said Conor O’Loughlin, Trócaire’s humanitarian co-ordinator. He said about 160,000 houses had been destroyed but a further 150,000 were beyond repair.

“The government has not experienced a disaster like this before. It is over 80 years since anything on this scale happened so the local authorities are overwhelmed by exactly what a relief operation on this scale entails,” he said.


The airport remains a bottleneck for supplies, but it is easing. When the aid does land the challenge is getting it from Kathmandu to the more remote areas.

However, aid agencies say that more aid is getting to those areas outside of the city. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said its teams had started reaching people in the districts of Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk, all hard hit by the quake.


“We are seeing people in need of basic healthcare, as well as a number of people with wounds sustained in the earthquake that have now become infected,” said Anne Kluijtmans, an MSF nurse. “We are cleaning and dressing wounds, as well as distributing antibiotics and pain medication. We have also treated cases of pneumonia, including among children.”

“Our priority is to reach people in places where no one else is going and who have not received assistance,” said MSF’s Dr Prince Mathew. “So it has been a huge challenge logistically to get the necessary supplies in through the congested airport, and secure the air transport we need to be able to provide medical assistance and deliver shelter and relief materials to the people in most urgent need.”

According to the UN, eight million of Nepal’s 28 million people were affected by the quake, with at least two million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months. Meanwhile, the exodus from the capital continues. About 900,000 people have left in the 10 days since the quake. This is out of a total population in the Kathmandu valley, which incorporates the capital and the towns of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, of about 2.5 million people.– (Additional reporting: Reuters)