Nepal: Two rescued after five days

NEPAL – Two people have been rescued from the rubble of buildings in Kathmandu, five days after an earthquake that killed at least 5,500 in Nepal. A 15-year-old boy told the BBC he survived by drinking water from wet clothes and eating clarified butter. Elsewhere, a woman was pulled from a collapsed block where she had been trapped alongside three bodies. Meanwhile, bad weather is hampering the delivery of relief to remote villages, a Nepali government spokesman said. The government has been criticised for its response to the disaster.

Outside Kathmandu, the relief effort has relied heavily on helicopters, with mountain roads blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake. Laxmi Dhakal, a spokesperson for Nepal’s home ministry, told the BBC that helicopters had been held back by “rainfall and cloudy conditions”. In Kathmandu, rescue workers from Nepal and the US worked for hours to free the boy from the rubble of the building. A huge crowd cheered as Pemba Lama emerged, blinking into the sunlight. He was carried away with a brace strapped around his neck, and was taken to an Israeli-run field hospital.

He later told the BBC: “There were so many people around me in the rubble. They were screaming.” The woman, called Krishna and in her 20s, was working as a maid in a Kathmandu hostel when the quake struck. She was trapped in the rubble of a lower floor with the bodies of three people, including her uncle. One body had to be removed before she could be freed by rescue teams from Norway, Israel and France. A relative said she had heard screams and asked people to search the building.

On Wednesday night, Nepalese soldiers in the town of Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, reportedly rescued an 11-year-old girl from earthquake rubble.

The girl was freed from a damaged building in the town’s Dattatreya Square, according to a tweet from Kunda Dixit, the editor of the Nepali Times newspaper.

Meanwhile, medics say many who survived the quake are now falling ill because they have been living in the open and drinking contaminated water. Binay Pandey, a doctor at Kathmandu’s Bir Hospital, said at least 1,200 people with water-borne illnesses had been admitted since Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, climbing is expected to resume next week on Mount Everest, where avalanches triggered by the earthquake killed 18 people. Damaged ladders in an area of the mountain known as the Khumbu icefall would be repaired within the next few days, according to the chief of Nepal’s tourism department, Tulsi Gautam.

Frustration has been growing in parts of rural Nepal over the pace of relief efforts, with some badly-affected villages yet to receive any assistance. Officials say Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake injured at least 11,000 people. The UN says more than eight million people have been affected and about 70,000 houses destroyed.

Dozens of countries are supporting the aid operation, contributing search-and-rescue teams, aircraft, medical supplies and communications equipment.

Despite extensive damage, experts say the number of casualties in many villages was lower than feared because people were working outdoors when the quake struck. In Kathmandu, riot police clashed on Wednesday with protesters angry at a lack of transport out of the city and delays in distributing aid. However, there have been some signs that parts of the capital are returning to normal. Some people have decided to return to their homes, having spent several nights out in the open. Cash machines have been refilled and some shops and street vendors have once again started trading. (BBC).

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