Nepal earthquake: Red Cross responds, opens tracing service

The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched its family links service, a website where people can register names of missing relatives.

The epicentre of the quake was 80km from Kathmandu and the capital suffered extensive damage.Nepal Red Cross Society plays a lead role in Nepal's disaster contingency plans. Its teams of volunteers and staff have been helping to rescue people trapped under rubble and administering first aid.

The Red Cross blood bank in Kathmandu is providing blood supplies to medical facilities in the capital, while emergency relief items are on hand for distribution.

"We are extremely concerned about the fate of communities in towns and villages in rural areas closer to the epicentre," said Jagan Chapagain from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"Roads have been damaged or blocked by landslides and communication lines are down preventing us from reaching local Red Cross branches to get accurate information. We anticipate that there will be considerable destruction and loss of life."

Australian Red Cross has a longstanding partnership with Nepal Red Cross and stands ready to help.

People looking for missing Australians should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1300 555 135 (within Australia) or +61 2 6261 3305 (outside Australia) or via SMS on +61 421 269 080.

For other nationalities, register their names on the ICRC family links

Further updates will be available on Monday 27 April.