Aerial views of Nepal’s mountainous Gorkha region – at the epicentre of Saturday’s earthquake, some 100 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu – revealed a scene of utter devastation.
Thousands of homes and most schools in the area are said to have been destroyed.
But information is hard to come by as many rural communities have been cut off. There are reports of villages perched on hillsides being largely destroyed, with survivors facing the threat of mudslides.
On Monday afternoon the Gorkha region’s most senior official, Uddav Timilsina, said relief supplies were yet to arrive as land routes had been blocked by landslides.
In the capital itself, a rare moment of good news as a young man is pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building by a Turkish rescue team.
He had been buried for more than 36 hours.
But well over 1,000 people are known to have died in Kathmandu, more than 4,000 across the country – and the numbers are certain to rise.
The search effort is often rudimentary due to a lack of equipment; Nepal’s labour minister has said there is a desperate shortage of bulldozers, cranes and scaffolding.
The quake destroyed large areas of the capital’s oldest districts, which are often labyrinths of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings.
Many people are preparing for a third night sleeping in the open either because their homes are flattened or amid fears that aftershocks will bring them crashing down.
Experts say Nepal was under-prepared despite predictions that another major quake was due. The zone where the earthquake struck is particularly vulnerable.
“Kathmandu valley is, like, a very sandy soil region where the shaking is going to be amplified. So, everything looks bad. And the earthquake which happened, was also a shallow earthquake, so shallow earthquakes cause more local damage. So the number of deaths which are coming out seem low for such a large earthquake. We will only find out more in the days to come,” said Hari Kumar, Regional Co-ordinator for South Asia of GeoHazards International, a group that works on worldwide earthquake risks.
Earthquake in Nepal and main aftershocks
Full screen – (Source: USGS)
On Monday the official number of injured stood at 6,500.
Doctors at a Kathmandu hospital have been working round the clock. One said he had seen bad chest wounds and some people have had limbs amputated.
There are not enough beds, and some people are being treated out in the open. The hospital had seen over a hundred dead by Monday.
The Nepalese authorities say there is a shortage of food and water and an increasing threat of disease.
One of the world’s poorest countries is badly in need of outside help.
The 7.8 magnitude quake struck between Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara to the west, which is often used as a base for trekking and climbing in the Himalayas.
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