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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020
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101-year-old man in Nepal pulled from rubble alive - eight days after quake

Separately, the death toll from last weekend’s disaster has now surpassed 7,000.

A Nepalese boy runs past houses destroyed in Pauwathok village, Sindhupalchok.
A Nepalese boy runs past houses destroyed in Pauwathok village, Sindhupalchok.
Image: Manish Swarup

Updated 7.33pm

RESCUERS PULLED A 101-year-old man alive from his ruined home a week after Nepal’s earthquake claimed at least 7,200 lives, as the government warned Sunday the death toll will climb “much higher”.

Funchu Tamang was rescued from the rubble of his house with only minor injuries to his ankle and hand, after the quake ripped through the impoverished country on 25 April.

“He was brought to the district hospital in a helicopter. His condition is stable,” local police officer Arun Kumar Singh told AFP from Nuwakot district, around 80 kilometres  northwest of Kathmandu.

Police also pulled three women alive from under rubble on Sunday in Sindhupalchowk, one of the worst-hit districts, although it was not immediately clear how long they had been trapped.

Earlier, the UN’s humanitarian chief has said she was “extremely concerned” that Nepal’s customs authorities are slowing the delivery of earthquake aid, as the death toll from the disaster crossed 7,000.

Valerie Amos said she was worried the foreign aid pouring into Nepal in the wake of the impoverished country’s deadliest earthquake in more than 80 years was being held up by red tape.

“I was extremely concerned to hear reports that customs was taking such a long time,” Amos told AFP in Kathmandu on Saturday, saying she had asked Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to speed up customs clearance for aid materials.

He has undertaken to ensure that happens, so I hope that from now we will see an improvement in those administrative issues.

The 7.8-magnitude quake wreaked a trail of death and destruction when it erupted around midday eight days ago, reducing much of Kathmandu to rubble and even triggering a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

Death toll

The death toll from the disaster has hit 7,040, according to the Emergency Operations Centre, with more than 14,000 injured.

More than 100 were also killed in India and China.

Although multiple teams of rescuers from more than 20 countries have been using sniffer dogs and heat-seeking equipment to find survivors in the rubble, noone has been pulled out alive since Thursday evening.

“Rescue operations are still under way, but focus has shifted to providing relief,” home ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told AFP.

“Many far flung villages have been affected,” he said, adding that there was still an “acute shortage” of tents for the hundreds of thousands left homeless.

Planes loaded with relief supplies from around the world were pouring into landlocked Nepal, but there have been numerous reports of many getting stuck at Kathmandu’s small international airport, and even customs officials stopping trucks filled with aid from crossing into the country from neighbouring India.

The manager of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport said very heavy planes were being barred from landing because of concerns about the condition of the single runway after the quake and a series of strong aftershocks.

“We have issued a notice saying that aircraft with a total weight exceeding 196 tonnes will not be allowed to land at Kathmandu airport,” Birendra Prasad Shrestha told AFP.

“There are no visible cracks in the runway but there have been so many tremors recently that we have to take precautions -  we don’t know what’s happening below the surface.

“This runway is the only lifeline for Kathmandu — if it goes, everything goes.”

Daragh Brophy and - © AFP, 2015 

Read: All Irish citizens in Nepal are safe, as 1,000 Europeans remain missing

Read: Baby pulled from rubble 24 hours after Nepal earthquake 

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