Monday, April 27, 2015

The Latest On Nepal Quake: reconstruction Cost $5 Billion

(AP) Indian tourists wait in a queue to be evacuated by special Indian Air Force plane at the Nepal International airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. A strong magnitude earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu valley on Saturday devastating the region and leaving tens of thousands shell-shocked and sleeping in streets


3.15 p.m. (0930 GMT)
Aid group World Vision says its staff members were able to reach Gorkha district, where Saturday's magnitude 7.8 quake was centered, but gathering information from the villages remains a challenge. The group says that some of the remote areas can be three days' walk from the main disaster center in Gorkha even when the roads are clear.
"These remote areas don't have any search or rescue operations assistance as of this time. In some of the remote areas staff heading out for assessments are finding both the road and the trails blocked by landslides, making access extremely difficult," World Vision said in an email to The Associated Press.
"In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment."
2.30 p.m. (0845 GMT)
A respected consultancy says the long-term cost of reconstruction in Nepal after Saturday's earthquake could be more than $5 billion, or about 20 percent of Nepal's GDP. Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific Chief Economist for the Colorado-based consultancy services IHS, says Nepal has extremely limited capacity to finance relief efforts and reconstruction from its own resources.
"The total long-term cost of reconstruction in Nepal using appropriate building standards for regions vulnerable to severe earthquakes could exceed $5 billion, which is around 20 percent of Nepal's GDP," he says.
Nepal's annual per capita GDP is only $1,000, and the average family lives in poverty. "Massive international disaster relief and rescue efforts will be needed urgently, as well as large-scale international financial and technical assistance for long-term reconstruction of the economy," says Biswas.
— Muneeza Naqvi, New Delhi
1.45 p.m. (0800 GMT)
Nepal's police say at least 3,617 people have been confirmed killed in Saturday's earthquake, including 1,302 in the Kathmandu Valley alone. In addition, 6,515 people were injured nationwide, the police department said in a Tweet.
So far 18 people have also been confirmed dead in an avalanche that swept through the Mount Everest base camp in the wake of the earthquake. Another 61 people were killed in neighboring India.
1.15 p.m. (0730 GMT)
Foreign tourists in Nepal are getting anxious as food, water and power remain scarce. Hotel rooms are in short supply too so Pierre-Anne Dube, a 31-year-old from Quebec, has been sleeping on the sidewalk outside a hotel. Friends had been staying there for the first two days so she could use the bathroom and shower there. But they have checked out.
Like many others she's scared and wants to get out on the first flight she can get. "We can't reach the embassy. We want to leave. We are scared. There is no food. We haven't eaten a meal since the earthquake and we don't have any news about what's going on."
She had just returned from a trek to Everest base camp, which had been the "best experience of her life," but living the experience of the massive earthquake was definitely the "worst." — Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal.
__ 1.15 p.m. (0730 GMT) The Israeli military said it is sending a search and rescue crew to Nepal on Monday to help locate survivors in the rubble, set up a medical field hospital for locals, and bring Israeli travelers home. A total of 260 Israeli military personnel are traveling to Nepal for the mission.
The military says about 150 Israeli travelers have yet to establish contact after the earthquake and are believed to be missing. "The idea is to arrive and to try to establish communication with them," said Col. Yoram Laredo, head of the Israeli military mission.
In addition, Israel's emergency response service, Magen David Adom, is flying home a group of 18 Israelis who travelled to Nepal to receive babies born to Nepalese surrogate mothers, spokesman Zaki Heller said.
— Daniel Estrin, Jerusalem __   1.00 p.m. (0645 GMT) International aid agency Oxfam says it is is gearing up to deliver clean water and sanitation supplies to thousands of Nepalis now left homeless. They estimate that some 30,000 people are currently living in makeshift shelters in 16 government camps, too scared to return to their homes for fear of aftershocks.
"We are managing to reach out to people in Kathmandu, but it is extremely difficult to provide support on a larger scale to the most affected areas — a lot of the main roads have been damaged," said Cecilia Keizer, Oxfam country director in Nepal.
"Our staff is still checking on their families and the partners we work with. At the moment, all the death count reports are coming from Kathmandu Valley. Sadly, I fear that this is only the beginning," she said.
__ 11.45 a.m. (0600 GMT) There's a lot that the world still doesn't really know about the Nepal quake. The key thing is this: How significant is the destruction in Gorkha district, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the capital and the location of the quake's epicenter? Roads to the area, difficult on good days, are damaged. Learning about the level of destruction and human toll in the vulnerable mountain villages there could change the whole picture.
Here's an assessment by Matt Darvas, a member of the aid group World Vision: "Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides," he says, "and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls."
__ 11.20 a.m. (0540 GMT) Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, says nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army is involved in rescue operations. "90 percent of the army's out there working on search and rescue," he said. "We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives."
— Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal
11.15 a.m. (0530 GMT)
Fears are growing that thousands of people may remain cut off in isolated, devastated mountain villages. Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district where Saturday's quake was centered, says he is in desperate need of help.
"Things are really bad in the district, especially in remote mountain villages. There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I have had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed," he said when contacted by telephone. "We have been calling for help, but we haven't received enough from the central government."
He says 223 people had been confirmed dead in the district but he presumed "the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured." — Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal
11.00 a.m. (0515 GMT)
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia has dispatched a 9-person crisis response team that is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu later Monday and "will assist in establishing the safety and welfare of Australians currently unaccounted for" after Saturday's earthquake. She says the team will also assist with humanitarian assessments to support Nepal's government and the international relief efforts.
__ 11.00 a.m. (0515 GMT) New Zealand is sending 37 urban search and rescue experts to Kathmandu. They are scheduled to leave Monday evening. Included are experts in rubble-pile rescues and technical rescues, as well as a structural engineer, a doctor, and paramedics.
New Zealand is also contributing 1 million New Zealand dollars ($761,000) to the relief effort. Officials have made contact with over 200 New Zealanders in Nepal and are seeking contact with others. They say they have no reason to believe at this point that any New Zealanders died in the earthquake.

— Nick Perry, Wellington, New Zealand __
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