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Nepal Quake Death Toll Tops 7,000

by VOA News May 04, 2015

Four more people have been rescued from underneath rubble, days after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, including a 101-year-old man.

Police on Sunday said the man was found about 80 kilometers northwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

Rescue workers earlier reported three other survivors were pulled from the debris in the Sindhupalchowk district northeast of Kathmandu.

But officials say eight days after the quake, hopes of finding more survivors are fast fading and the death toll could climb 'much higher' than the current total of more than 7,000.

Thousands of people are still missing, including about 1,000 visiting Europeans.

Also Sunday, U.S. military aircraft, heavy equipment and air traffic controllers arrived in Nepal. The U.S. military will help manage the growing piles of relief supplies clogging Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu, which is struggling to distribute the aid arriving from around the world since the 7.8-magnitude quake.

Brigadier General Paul Kennedy of the U.S. Marines said: 'They're going to make an immediate difference. We've got search and rescue teams waiting to go out to the most remote areas. We've got relief supplies, especially shelter. Most people don't understand that shelter is the most pressing need. So we're going to take those things out starting tomorrow morning. So for the people that have been affected by this earthquake, it's going to make an immediate impact on their lives.'

World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin told reporters: 'We were in communities today that we weren't in yesterday and tomorrow we will also deliver to communities that we didn't deliver to today. And we will continue at that pace, increasing that pace, escalating the number of people that we achieve, until no person who was affected by this earthquake is hungry.'

Nepalese Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said, 'there are still villages where we know that all houses have been destroyed, but have not yet been able to reach. The aftershocks have not receded, and we expect the final casualty numbers to climb much higher.'

Aid has been slow to reach some of those most in need.

'Nobody has come here,' said earthquake victim Laksmi Shrestha, who lives in the village of Pauwathok, 50 kilometers east of Kathmandu. 'Nobody has helped us. We are all doing it ourselves. We are eating whatever little we have.'

'Unless somebody comes with some relief or some help, we will die of hunger. What can we say, what can we say now?' said another villager, Indra Bahadur Bharati.

Aid volunteer Abhishek Bhutoria said rescue workers often lack information on the towns most in need.

'The challenge is basically choosing the place where people have not been reached, we need to get the data, for instance this place, we don't want to reach some place where people have already reached,' Bhutoria said. 'We want to choose places where other people have not reached. That is a bit difficult because people are taking initiative from their own places. A day before I was volunteering in a different group and we went to a different place, and we got to know that place has already been served. So what we have to do is we have to choose another location so the other places which have not received the funds get the funds, or funds for the relief material.'

In Kathmandu, some signs of normalcy have returned as merchants conducted business and some residents packed up tents and moved indoors. But the overwhelming smell of dead bodies has become a main reason many residents have not returned to their homes.

U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos visited devastated areas in Nepal Friday as part of her three-day visit to assess relief operations. She told reporters that emergency funding for relief efforts was streaming into the country and urged the international community to increase its support.

Nepal's government is giving $1,000 to the families of the dead plus $400 for burial costs.

The United Nations said more than 8 million people have been affected by the earthquake and at least 2 million have been displaced.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has created a website for friends and family to report missing loved ones or search for those who have checked in.

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