MASSIVE aftershocks have wreaked further chaos in parts of Nepal devastated by the biggest earthquake to hit the country in nearly a century.
The latest major aftershock came as rescue efforts were intensifying in the wake of the death and destruction caused by the initial quake.
A number of other Britons have also not been heard from since the quake struck
As many as 2,600 people have been killed after a 7.8-magnitude quake struck just before midday on Saturday, sending tremors through the Kathmandu valley and the nearby city of Pokhara.
However, it is feared the true death toll may be much higher.
The majority of victims were reported in Nepal, but fatalities are also being confirmed in India, Tibet, Bangladesh and around the Nepal-China border.
A Google executive was one of 18 people killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest that left a further 61 injured.
At least three Scots were among a number of mountaineers from around the globe who were left stranded on the world’s highest peak after access to its base camp was cut off after the earthquake.
A number of other Britons visiting the region have not been heard from since the quake struck.
Scores of casualties have been taken to hospitals in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, many of which are struggling to cope with the number of dead and injured being brought in. More than 700 have died in the city itself.
About an hour after the initial quake, a magnitude 6.6 aftershock hit and smaller aftershocks could be felt vibrating through the region for several hours. Then an aftershock measuring 6.7 struck yesterday morning, adding to the massive task facing emergency crews in the troubled region.
Plane-loads of supplies, doctors and relief workers have begun arriving from neighbouring countries and around the world, including the UK.
But “the aftershocks keep coming,” according to Sanjay Karki, from global aid agency Mercy Corps.
“People don’t know what to expect. All the open spaces in Kathmandu are packed with people who are camping outdoors.
“When the aftershocks come you cannot imagine the fear. You can hear women and children crying.”
At hospitals rattled by the aftershocks, staff yesterday moved sick and injured patients outside with doctors at Kathmandu Medical College setting up an operating theatre inside a tent.
“Both private and government hospitals have run out of space and are treating patients outside, in the open,” Nepal’s envoy to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyay, said.
“We have launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation action plan and lots needs to be done,” Nepal’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Minendra Rijal said.
“Our country is in a moment of crisis and we will require tremendous support and aid.”
The UK has deployed an eight-strong team to provide urgent humanitarian assistance for those affected by the disaster.
Experts in search and rescue are travelling to Nepal to assess the scale of damage and help local authorities direct the response.
As military helicopters hovered over Kathmandu and ferried emergency supplies to victims yesterday, search and rescue efforts were going on in at least five locations in the capital. Near the prime minister’s official residence, two bulldozers scoured the remains of a four-storey house.
Eyewitnesses described the impact of the quake. Tanya Barron, of Plan International UK, was on the top floor of a building in Kathmandu when it began to “shake violently”.
Oxfam is lending support to rescue efforts, with experts preparing to fly from the UK with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food. Christian Aid has already made £50,000 available to help victims and the British Red Cross has launched an appeal.
The Department for International Development confirmed a Cobra meeting had been held to discuss the UK’s response to the disaster.
The Foreign Office is advising Britons to follow guidance from local authorities in Nepal and has set up a helpline for people worried about loved ones.
An Aberdeen-based charity set up to support the 3,000-strong Nepalese community living in Scotland is mounting an urgent appeal to help the thousands left homeless after their towns and villages were reduced to ruins.
Dipesh Regmi, of the Organisation for Nepalese Culture and Welfare, said the situation in Nepal is desperate.
“People are very scared to go inside the buildings because they may be unsafe,” he said.“They are sleeping in the streets and on riverbanks.”
The database includes Sebastian Lovera, a 22-year-old skiing and diving instructor from Kent. His last known location was Khumjung, from where he was heading towards Everest base camp.
His stepfather, Greg Smye-Rumsby, said: “Sebastian is an extremely lively and self-motivating person and that is why he went to Nepal.
“We haven’t heard from him. He would not have switched his phone off. We have tried ringing it. Sometimes it rings and sometimes we get an answer but it’s an automated answer. It says the phone is switched off.
“He’s certainly not a person to take risks.”
Another Briton feared missing is Laura Wood, 23, from West Yorkshire. She had been trekking in the Himalayas without any way of making contact.
John Carroll, 59, listed his daughter Julia Carroll, 22, from Suffolk, on the website with her location “unspecified”. He said: “We are desperately worried. It’s a tragic situation out there, with so many deaths and so much destruction and we can only hope she is safe and gets in touch.”
The Foreign office is telling British nationals who require consular assistance to call +44 (0) 207 008 0000 or text NEPAL to +447860010026.
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