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Death toll passes 1,000 after massive earthquake in Nepal

It has been reported that a number of Irish people are now stranded in Nepal.

Updated 4.18pm

Nepal Earthquake Source: AP/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN Affairs has set up an emergency response team in Dublin to handle calls from family members concerned for Irish citizens who may be stranded in Nepal, where a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed more than 1,000 people.

The earthquake ripped through large parts of the country, toppling office blocks and towers in the panic-stricken capital Kathmandu.

Officials said that at least at least 1,170 people are known to have died in Nepal but that the toll could be many times higher, while casualties were also reported in neighbouring India and Bangladesh.

There were also reports of an avalanche at Mount Everest’s base camp in Nepal where scores of mountaineers have gathered at the start of the annual climbing season. At least ten people were killed in the avalanche.

Nepal Everest Avalanche Anniversary Source: Tashi Sherpa

Base camp was crowded with foreign mountaineers and their sherpa teams at the start at the climbing season when the avalanche hit, destroying camps and sending slabs of ice crashing in what was described as a “huge disaster”.

 

Snow is preventing helicopters from reaching climbers, an official said. “There might be over 1,000 people there right now, including foreign climbers and Nepalese supporting staffs. Rescue helicopters have not been able to fly because of the weather,” Gyanendra Kumar Shrestha, an official in Nepal’s tourism department, told AFP.

Irish people in Nepal

The Irish Independent has reported a group of 11 Irish people are now stranded in Nepal, though none were injured in the earthquake.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said an emergency response team in in place in Dublin to handle any calls about Irish people who are in the affected region.  Anyone concerned about friends or family in the region can contact the Department on 014180200.

Minister Charlie Flanagan said his thoughts are with all those affected by the earthquake, and in particular with loved ones of those who have lost their lives.

“The situation on the ground in Nepal is still unfolding and my Department is working through our Embassy in New Delhi to provide assistance to any Irish affected.

“We are consulting with the UN and NGO partners to see how Ireland can best assist in the region.”

Death toll rising

Nepal Earthquake Source: AP/Press Association Images

At least a dozen bodies were taken away from the ruins of Kathmandu’s landmark Dharahara tower, according to an AFP photographer who saw similar scenes of multiple casualties in other parts of the city.

“In Kathmandu 71 have been reported dead so far,” home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told AFP as the scale of the disaster began to emerge. Another 43 had been reported dead in the nearby Bhaktapur district, he added.

Nepal Earthquake Source: AP/Press Association Images

While contact with Nepal was sporadic, a senior Nepalese diplomat warned that the final toll could run into many hundreds.

“We have received reports that there is a big loss of property and life in Nepal,” Krishna Prasad Dhakal, the deputy chief of mission at Nepal’s Embassy in New Delhi, told AFP.

“Possibly hundreds of people have died in various parts of the country, particularly in Kathmandu and Pokhara.”

Nepal Earthquake Source: AP/Press Association Images

At least 42 people were known to have died in India, including 30 in the eastern state of Bihar, while buildings in the capital New Delhi had to be evacuated.

The United States Geological Survey and India’s meteorogical service said the shallow quake struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu at 0611 GMT, with walls crumbling and families racing outside their homes.

“The walls of houses have collapsed around me onto the road. All the families are outside in their yards huddled together,” an AFP reporter said in Kathmandu.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: LA hit by earthquake but some thought it was just their noisy neighbours

Read: Tsunami threat passes after 7.5 quake hits Papua New Guinea

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