Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hope Fades on Finding More #NepalEarthquake Survivors


At the Los Angeles Times, "Hope of finding more Nepal quake survivors fades as toll tops 5,200":
Hope of finding survivors in rubble was fading fast Wednesday as the death toll from last weekend’s earthquake in Nepal surpassed 5,200. But after days of complaints about the shortage of aid, a somewhat stronger presence of foreign search-and-rescue teams and assistance convoys was evident in the capital and outlying districts.

A logjam of airplane traffic and passengers began to clear at Katmandu’s airport, where authorities said they had picked up 1.5 tons of trash from the overrun facility. Banks, restaurants and even souvenir shops began to reopen in the capital.

Thousands of people, though, continued to look for ways out of the Katmandu Valley, hitching rides on crowded buses and taxis. Many were returning home to remote villages to assess the effects of the disaster. State-run Radio Nepal said 200,000 people had already left the valley as of late Tuesday and another 200,000 may leave in the coming days.

That exodus could crimp the ability of private businesses and government offices to function. Government authorities ordered civil servants to return to work Thursday, though schools and many other institutions remained closed indefinitely.

Indian, Russian, French, Chinese and Nepalese search-and-rescue teams were working across the capital, trying to find survivors amid collapsed buildings. But four days after the magnitude 7.8 quake, chances of finding anyone alive were slim.

As the sun began to set, Deepak Damai stood on the edge of the Sobhavagbati Bridge in Katmandu, clutching a photo of his 5-year-old son and explaining his agony to a reporter from an Indian TV station. The boy and his mother were in their apartment on the third floor of a seven-story building that collapsed during Saturday’s quake.

Damai, who had been working in Dubai at the time, flew home Monday to search for his wife and son. He watched with despair as Nepalese rescue workers drilled through the layers of concrete, pulling out four bodies. “Those people also lived on the third floor,” he said, his lip trembling.

Rescue workers had dug out 27 bodies so far and still had three more levels to drill through. A police officer said they expected to find a large number of bodies on the lowest level, which had housed an athletic club.

About half a mile away, Indian, Russian and Nepalese teams were using dogs and listening devices to try to locate survivors from three collapsed buildings, including a church where 50 people had been worshiping at the time of the quake.

Subrate Charkrabortui, an Indian physician on the scene, was downbeat. One body had been pulled out Wednesday, he said.

“We could do much more if we had better equipment," he said. "But it is difficult to airlift all the heavy equipment necessary to lift buildings like this.”