International search teams leave Nepal

2015-05-05 08:53
Survivor Rishi Khanal is freed by French rescuers from the ruins of a three-story hotel in the Gangabu area of Kathmandu, Nepal. (Niranjan Shrestha, AP)

Survivor Rishi Khanal is freed by French rescuers from the ruins of a three-story hotel in the Gangabu area of Kathmandu, Nepal. (Niranjan Shrestha, AP)

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Kathmandu - Foreign search and rescue teams began leaving Nepal, 10 days after an earthquake that killed thousands, as the government said it would focus its efforts on relief to survivors.

"We asked them last night, and many teams have already left," Interior Ministry spokesperson Laxmi Dhakal said on Tuesday.

"If they have certain expertise, like clearing rubble, they can stay. Otherwise there is little hope of finding people alive," he said.

Some 34 countries had sent rescue teams to Nepal to search for survivors after the 7.8-magnitude quake last week, the worst in the country since 1934.

Other foreign aid, including helicopters supplied by several countries, will remain to help with relief efforts.

The official death toll has reached 7 500, Dhakal said, including 57 foreigners, with 112 foreigners still listed as missing, he said.

Soldiers and police were sending supplies to affected rural areas where aid had not reached before. But there was still a dire shortage of tents for survivors who lost their homes.

"We hope to receive 100 000 tents," Dhakal said.

Some villagers in Sindhupalchowk, which was hit the hardest by the quake, said they were still waiting for aid to arrive.

"We have 800 houses in our area and only four are standing. We desperately need tents immediately because we are sleeping out in the open," said Jit Bahadur Tamang from Karthali Village.

"Most of our food grains are destroyed in the collapsed houses, but the immediate need is tents," secondary school teacher Tamang said.

Sitaram Nepal, a farmer from Tarmang village in western district of Gorkha, near the quake epicentre, said some relief came for the first time on Monday.

"We received some blankets and dry food. There is still a shortage of tents," he said by phone.

Hundreds of tourists were still not accounted for in the popular trekking region of Langtang, among the areas worst-hit by the April 25 tremor, authorities said.

"According to our records, we know that between April 15 to 25th, there were 558 tourists in Langtang. Some of them have been rescued, but ... we're still figuring the numbers out," said Ramesh Adhikari, chief of the Nepal Tourism Board.

Images from the area showed a massive landslide had crushed dozens of guesthouses and homes in the main village.

Adhikari dismissed media reports saying 1 000 people were missing in Langtang as rumours.

About 4 500 people live in the Langtang valley, which lies north of Kathmandu near the border with Tibet.

Read more on:    nepal  |  nepal earthquake

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