Nepal PM: Relief efforts picking up

Kathmandu - Nepal's prime minister said on Tuesday that relief efforts were picking up, but acknowledged a severe lack of key resources after the devastating earthquake in the mountainous country.

Sushil Koirala spoke after visiting the Barpak-Larpak area near the rural epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude quake April 25 that killed more 7 550 people.

"We are doing our best with the resources that we have. The relief effort is gradual," he said.

"We are not very happy with the speed of the work. The people are very patient and reacting with no anger. They are deprived but I am surprised how calm they are. I am quite optimistic that in due course of time things will be better."

Koirala said the country still faced a scarcity of tents and basic foodstuffs including rice, cereals, oil and salt.

"We do not have enough tents. We received 100 000 tents but it's not enough," he said.

Shelter has been the biggest problem facing the earthquake victims. 

"We can't build houses in the current situation. We don't have land right now. First we have to settle them immediately in the tents. After the rainy season, work for reconstruction will start. We need financial support from the international community for construction of houses and rehabilitation. 

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

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 behind to help with relief efforts.

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.

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.

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