As the death toll from Nepal’s devastating earthquake climbed past 4,000, aid workers and officials in remote, shattered villages near the epicenter pleaded Monday for food, shelter and medicine. The small airport in the capital of Kathmandu was congested and chaotic, with some flights forced to turn back early in the day.
Buildings in parts of the city were reduced to rubble, and there were shortages of food, fuel, electricity and shelter. As bodies were recovered, relatives cremated the dead along the Bagmati River, and at least a dozen pyres burned late into the night.
Conditions were far worse in the countryside, with rescue workers still struggling to reach mountain villages two days after the earthquake. Some roads and trails to the Gorkha district, where the quake was centered, were blocked by landslides — but also by traffic jams that regularly clog the route north of Kathmandu.
“There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I’ve had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed,” said Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha region.
World Vision aid worker Matt Darvas cited a “disturbing” report from the village of Singla, where up to 75 percent of the buildings may have collapsed and there has been no contact since Saturday night.
Jagdish Pokhrel, a clearly exhausted army spokesman, said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue operations. Rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries were helping police and army troops in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.
Nepal’s Home Ministry said the country’s death toll had risen to 4,010. Another 61 were killed in neighboring India, and China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet. At least 7,180 people were injured in the quake, police said. Tens of thousands are estimated to be left homeless.
The quake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It was felt across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet, and Pakistan.