Nepal earthquake: ‘Nine out of 10 soldiers’ in rescue mission

Nepal earthquake: ‘Nine out of 10 soldiers’ in rescue mission

Nine out of 10 Nepalese troops are said to be involved in search and rescue operations, as the country pleads for more foreign aid to deal with a massive earthquake that killed 4,000 people.

Almost the entire army and police has joined the quake effort, officials say.

China, India, the UK and US are among those sending aid from abroad. Nepal says it needs everything from blankets and helicopters to doctors and drivers.

Some 200 climbers stranded by the quake on Mount Everest are being rescued.

About 60 of the climbers had been brought to safety by helicopters on Monday, according to Tulsi Gautam, the chief of Nepal’s tourism agency.

He told the BBC that helicopters were only ferrying two people at a time because of the risk of flying at such a high altitude. The climbers had been unable to leave the mountain because of avalanches triggered by the tremors.

The quake, which struck on Saturday, is now known to have injured at least 7,000 people. Vast tent cities have sprung up in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, for those displaced or afraid to return to their homes.

Several aftershocks have been reported – the latest on Monday night. Across the country, thousands are camping outside for the third night. There are shortages of water, food and electricity, and fears of outbreaks of disease.

Almost every soldier and police officer in Nepal is involved in search and rescue work, a spokesman for the home ministry, Lakshmi Prasad Dhakal, told the BBC.

Meanwhile, an army spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that 90% of the country’s 100,000 troops are taking part in the quake effort.

The Nepalese government’s Chief Secretary, Lila Mani Poudyal, said his country was short of medical teams and relief materials, including “tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses and 80 different medicines”.

“We don’t have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped,” he said. The need for doctors would grow as more survivors were pulled from the rubble, Mr Poudyal added.

Dozens of people are also reported to have been killed by the earthquake in neighbouring China and India.

Both countries have sent emergency teams to Nepal, along with Pakistan, which said it was dispatching four C130 transport planes carrying a 30-bed hospital. Other countries, including Britain, Australia and New Zealand are also contributing aid, alongside international agencies.

However, congestion at Kathmandu’s airport has caused delays, with Indian TV reporting that an Indian relief flight was forced to turn back.

United Nations World Food Programme spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told AFP that the agency planned “a large, massive operation”.

Source: eKantipur