KATHMANDU, Nepal – Nepalese authorities said Tuesday, May 5, that a vast army of emergency workers was finally managing to deliver aid to stranded survivors of a massive earthquake as the death toll from the disaster rose to 7,557.
The government said that more than 131,500 Nepalese military and police personnel were now taking part in the massive aid operation in the vast Himalayan nation, aided by more than 100 teams of foreign relief workers.
While the government has acknowledged being overwhelmed by the April 25 disaster and there have been complaints of delays to the relief effort, the home ministry indicated the situation was being brought under control.
“The situation in the country is gradually becoming normal because relief items have already reached crucial, hard hit areas,” home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told Agence France-Presse.
“Everybody is trying to return to their normal lives and all our government machinery is working to make sure that all relief is provided for as long as people want and need. We are trying our best.”
His comments came after the National Emergency Operation Centre said the total number of dead had now reached 7,557 while 14,536 were injured in the 7.8-magnitude quake, Nepal’s deadliest in more than 80 years.
The quake also killed more than 100 people in India and China.
The Nepalese government has warned that the final toll is likely to be much higher as rescue teams are only now beginning to access remote areas in the Himalayan nation which were among the worst affected.
US military helicopters began reconnaissance trips on Monday, May 4, to assess the damage in remote areas and are expected to shortly begin delivering relief supplies and airlift casualties.
Dhakal said relief operations could carry on for weeks, if not months.
“There are so many people who have been displaced and so many people who have lost their homes and barely living under thin sheets and tent structures,” he said.
While the government has set aside 20 billion rupees (around $196 million) for a reconstruction and rehabilitation fund, it is also looking for large-scale financial assistance from the international community. – Rappler.com