By Our Reporter with Agency Report
Rescuers in Nepal are searching for survivors of a magnitude 7.8 quake that killed nearly 2,000, including 17 on Everest, digging through rubble in the devastated capital, Kathmandu.
Residents of Kathmandu were woken by fresh aftershocks on Sunday in the worst disaster to hit the Himalayan nation in more than 80 years.
Panicked residents spent the night trying to sleep out on the streets and open ground in makeshift tents.
Relief agencies have already warned that as many as six million people might be affected in Nepal by Saturday’s disaster.
Hospitals in the Kathmandu valley, the quake-affected region with 2.5 million people, were overcrowded, running out of emergency supplies and space to store corpses, the UN said in a statement.
Hospitals are so stretched that medics have set up tents outside the buildings to treat patients.
There was a little more order on Sunday as rescue teams fanned out across Kathmandu.
International aid groups and governments have sent emergency crews to reinforce those trying to find survivors in Kathmandu, and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks.
The Red Cross said it was concerned about the fate of rural villages close to the epicentre of the quake northwest of Kathmandu.
“Roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides and communication lines are down preventing us from reaching local Red Cross branches to get accurate information,” Jagan Chapagain, Red Cross Asia Pacific director, said.
Most areas are without power and water, but with Kathamandu airport reopened, rescue flights began arriving. Workers are sending out tents and relief goods in lorries and helicopters.
“We have deployed all our resources for search and rescues. Helicopters have been sent to remote areas. We are sifting through the rubble where buildings have collapsed to see if we can find anyone,” Kamal Singh Bam, national police spokesperson, told AFP news agency.
Authorities said at least 1,899 people had died, including 721 in Kathmandu alone. The number of casualties is expected to climb as reports come in from far-flung areas, Laxmi Dhakal, a Home Ministry official, said.
Among the dead are 17 who were struck by an avalanche on Mount Everest that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.
At least 5,000 people were injured across Nepal.
Snowfalls on Saturday had thwarted efforts to remove survivors from the Everest base camp, where about 100 mountaineers are believed to be stuck. Rescue planes and helicopters began removing the injured to Kathmandu on Sunday.
“Knowing the geology and the lay of the land there, to facilitate the medical care required and to try to medivac people out of there is going to be extremely difficult, especially considering the weather conditions there right now,” Kenton Cool, a British mountaineer, told Al Jazeera.
The quake destroyed expanses of the oldest neighbourhoods of Kathmandu, and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan.
At least 50 people were killed in India mostly in eastern Bihar state.
The disaster is likely to put a huge strain on the resources of this poor country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism.
The world reacted quickly to the disaster, offering money, relief materials, equipment, expertise and rescue teams.
Among the first to move in was Nepal’s neighbour India, with which it has close political, cultural and religious ties.
Indian air force planes landed on Sunday with 43 tonnes of relief material, including tents and food, and nearly 200 rescuers, Vikas Swarup, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman, said.
Offers of help poured in from governments around the world, with the US and EU announcing they were sending in disaster response teams.
Chinese state media said 17 people had also been killed in Tibet as authorities sent a team of 62 rescuers, accompanied by sniffer dogs, to help emergency workers there.
Weather forecasters warned that rain was on the way, with dark clouds looming over Kathmandu that promised more misery for displaced survivors.
The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at 11:56am local time (06:11 GMT) on Saturday.