Nepal Earthquake Death Toll Crosses 7,000, UN Claims Customs Checks Holding Up Relief
Kathmandu: Customs inspections at Kathmandu airport are holding up vital relief supplies for earthquake survivors in Nepal, a UN official said on Saturday, as the death toll from the disaster a week ago passed 7,000.
United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government…

Kathmandu: Customs inspections at Kathmandu airport are holding up vital relief supplies for earthquake survivors in Nepal, a UN official said on Saturday, as the death toll from the disaster a week ago passed 7,000.

United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government must loosen its normal customs restrictions to deal with the increasing flow of relief material now pouring in from abroad and piling up at the airport.

But the government, complaining it has received such unneeded supplies as tuna and mayonnaise, insisted its customs agents had to check all emergency shipments.

US military aircraft and personnel due to arrive on Saturday to help ferry relief supplies to stricken areas outside the capital were delayed and tentatively scheduled to arrive on Sunday, a US Marines spokeswoman said.

“They should not be using peacetime customs methodology,” the UN’s McGoldrick said. Instead, he argued, all relief material should get a blanket exemption from checks on arrival.

Nepal lifted import taxes on tarpaulins and tents on Friday but a home ministry spokesman, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said all goods coming in from overseas had to be inspected. “This is something we need to do,” he said.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat appealed on Friday to international donors to send tents, tarpaulins and basic food supplies and said some of the items received were of no use.

“We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise. What good are those things for us? We need grains, salt and sugar,” he told reporters.

Trucks and drivers

Some survivors held a candle-light ceremony in Kathmandu on Saturday to mark the passing of one week since the disaster, many of them breaking down in tears as they prayed.

Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy said the delayed US contingent included at least 100 US soldiers, lifting equipment and six military aircraft, two of them helicopters.

He also warned against bottlenecks at Kathmandu airport, saying: “What you don’t want to do is build up a mountain of supplies” that block space for planes or more supplies.

Nepali government officials have said efforts to step up the pace of delivery of relief material to remote areas were also frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.

“Our granaries are full and we have ample food stock, but we are not able to transport supplies at a faster pace,” said Shrimani Raj Khanal, a manager at the Nepal Food Corp.

Army helicopters have air-dropped instant noodles and biscuits to remote communities but people need rice and other ingredients to cook a proper meal, he said.

The government said the death toll from last Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake had reached 7,000 and that more than 14,000 people were injured.

In Kathmandu, teams with sniffer dogs slowly searched through ruined buildings for bodies still buried in the rubble. Elsewhere, volunteers stacked up bricks recovered from the debris to begin the slow process of reconstruction.

Some agencies are beginning to look for demolition crews capable of bringing down thousands of dangerous buildings.

Monsoon and disease

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the quake, with survivors afraid to return to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. Tents have been pitched in Kathmandu’s main sports stadium and on its golf course.

According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

The United Nations said 8 million of Nepal’s 28 million people were affected, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months.

The top priorities now are getting aid and shelter to people before the monsoon season starts within weeks and adds to the difficulty in distributing relief supplies, World Food Programme executive director Ertharin Cousin said.

“Our fear is the monsoon will come early,” she said.

Disease is also a worry. “Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open,” Rownak Khan, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nepal, said in a statement.

“This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases.”

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About Earth Changes Media w/ Mitch Battros

Mitch Battros is a scientific journalist who is highly respected in both the scientific and spiritual communities due to his unique ability to bridge the gap between modern science and ancient text. Founded in 1995 – Earth Changes TV was born with Battros as its creator and chief editor for his syndicated television show. In 2003, he switched to a weekly radio show as Earth Changes Media. ECM quickly found its way in becoming a top source for news and discoveries in the scientific fields of astrophysics, space weather, earth science, and ancient text. Seeing the need to venture beyond the Sun-Earth connection, in 2016 Battros advanced his studies which incorporates our galaxy Milky Way - and its seemingly rhythmic cycles directly connected to our Solar System, Sun, and Earth driven by the source of charged particles such as galactic cosmic rays, gamma rays, and solar rays. Now, "Science Of Cycles" is the vehicle which brings the latest cutting-edge discoveries confirming his published Equation.
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