UN appeals for more help for earthquake-hit Nepal


By Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times

KATHMANDU, Nepal –The United Nations on Friday called for further support for earthquake-hit Nepal as officials said the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude temblor neared 6,200.

Nearly one week since the quake, donor countries have provided $53 million for emergency aid, less than 13 percent of the $415 million the U.N. has said will be needed.

While many shops in the capital have reopened and water and fuel shortages have eased, hundreds of thousands of homes across the impoverished mountain nation have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 3 million people need food assistance, according to the U.N.


“I am heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but I am also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches,” said Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, who is visiting Kathmandu, the capital.

“So many people have lost everything.”

Relief officials were still grappling with the scale of the disaster even as aid packages began reaching mountain villages near the epicenter of the quake in Gorkha, about 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu.

Kathmandu’s international airport is crammed with relief supplies sent from around the world. But rugged terrain, a lack of paved roads and weak government institutions have hampered the distribution of aid to some of the worst affected areas, where traditional mud and brick houses lie in ruins and families are sleeping under plastic sheets or under the open sky.

“The government is useless,” complained Khil Bahadur Ramnagar, 28.

He suffered a broken leg when the quake ripped through the hilltop village of Paslang, where an international relief team on Friday delivered sacks of blankets, hygiene kits, jerrycans and other emergency goods.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala toured the airport on Friday and called for aid delivery to speed up. But officials and international relief officials in Gorkha said they were limited by a lack of helicopters to deliver the supplies and were still gathering information about the affected areas.


Koirala’s office has announced it will give the equivalent of $1,000 to families of each victim killed in last Saturday’s earthquake.

Police said the death toll in Nepal had risen to 6,198 and the number of injured people was 13,568. But those numbers were likely to rise further as many people remain unaccounted for.

On Thursday, search-and-rescue teams pulled two people from the rubble of collapsed buildings in a chaotic neighborhood near Kathmandu’s main bus depot, raising the hopes of a weary city.

A day later, search teams were back in the area and onlookers jammed the street, hoping for a glimpse of another miracle rescue.

Los Angeles Times special correspondent Bhrikuti Rai contributed to this report.