Nepal: Red Cross rushes help to quake affected population as needs escalate

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Delhi/ Kuala Lumpur/ Geneva, 27 April 2015 – The Nepal Red Cross Society emergency teams are battling to bring help to survivors of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the Kathmandu Valley and its neighbouring countries.

The disaster has claimed thousands of lives including a number of staff and volunteers from the Red Cross. The death toll is expected to rise as new information becomes available, and the level of humanitarian needs will be high.

More than 1,500 Red Cross volunteers and 300 staff have been relentlessly working amidst numerous aftershocks - the strongest of which was magnitude 6.7 - assisting in life-saving efforts, administering first aid to the injured, offering psychosocial support, carrying out assessments and providing relief at the evacuation centres, and to those seeking safety in the streets.

Thousands who have been forced to flee their homes and seek safety in open areas have been provided with emergency shelter. Hygiene kits have also been distributed in areas that are accessible. Further supplies, equipment and technical support are expected to arrive from India, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Germany, Spain and Switzerland in the coming days.

The Red Cross blood bank in Kathmandu is also providing blood supplies to the main medical facilities in the capital city.

According to Jagan Chapagain, Director for Asia Pacific at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): “The humanitarian situation in towns and villages closer to the epicentre of the quake is of major concern. Search and rescue as well as relief efforts are hampered due to lack of access and information from the affected populations in rural areas surrounding Kathmandu.”

“Strong aftershocks are continuing and many people are sleeping in the open, fearful of returning to their homes. Rain is predicted for the next three days and this would further hinder the response operations. Food, safe drinking water, emergency shelter and medical care are expected to be the most urgent needs of the affected population,” said Chapagain.

With its narrow, steep mountain roads, traversing the terrain in this region is challenging even in normal times. But damaged roads and landslides following the earthquake and aftershocks have added to the logistical difficulties.

“This critical phase of the response - when seconds can mean the difference between life and death - calls for fast and effective action. The IFRC and its member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are mobilizing resources to scale up assistance to thousands of people, working alongside and in support of the Nepal Red Cross Society,” said Jagan Chapagain.

“Nepal Red Cross Society, together with the IFRC, has been carrying out disaster risk reduction and preparedness measures within communities across the country and has an extensive network of volunteers” he ended.

The IFRC activated its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the initial phase of the emergency response operations, and will launch an emergency appeal today.

The Red Cross Society of China is also delivering assistance to those affected by the earthquake in Tibet. The Red Cross has distributed 2,000 tents and is planning to provide additional relief items such as quilts, warm clothing and blankets.

The Indian Red Cross Society is working closely with the government of India to monitor the situation in India and Nepal. With the assistance of the government, the Indian Red Cross is sending stretchers, a water purification unit and technical experts to support the Red Cross response in Nepal.

For further information, please contact:

In Kathmandu

Mark South, British Red Cross delegate - +9779813102044 Email: Twitter: @78Southy

In New Delhi

Maude Froberg - +91813091887 Email: Twitter: @maudefroberg

In Kuala Lumpur

Patrick Fuller - +60122308451 Email: Twitter: @pat_fuller and @IFRCAsiapacific

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier / +41792132413 Email: Twitter: @BenoistC