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Nepal unable to channel aid; toll could touch 7,000

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Deeptiman Tiwary,TNN | Apr 28, 2015, 02.17 AM IST

NEW DELHI: With just two more persons rescued alive from under quake debris in Nepal on Monday by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), hopes of finding more survivors are fast diminishing. Indian teams engaged in rescue work in Kathmandu now expect the death toll to go up to 7,000 or more given the scale of the disaster.

Rescue work has been hampered by inclement weather in the past couple of days and by the fact that Nepalese authorities are completely overwhelmed by the disaster. Sources say, having no experience of dealing with such a disaster, Nepal has not been able to utilize resources at its disposal even though help has been pouring from across the world.

In fact, the first team of doctors from India that landed in Nepal on Saturday, could not be deployed for 10 hours as Nepalese authorities could not figure out where to send them.

"Coordination is a problem. All foreign teams are at the disposal of Nepalese Army and working under their operational command. We can't go anywhere on our own. The result is things have not picked up as much pace and efficiency as they should in this situation," said an NDRF official.

Pouring international aide has already choked Tribhuvan International Airport, sources said. The result is that out of the six NDRF teams that were scheduled to fly to Kathmandu on Monday, only three could reach. Three others were still waiting in Bhatinda to get air clearance to take the flight at the time of going to press.

"There are flights loaded with food items and other relief material standing at Kathmandu airport and there is no one to unload them. If logistics are not present, too much help can also become a problem in disaster situations," said another officer.

Sources said much of the rescue effort is currently centred in and around Kathmandu as that's the most densely populated part of Nepal. "Rescue teams are not able to touch all corners even in Kathmandu forget reaching remote areas. The Pokhara airstrip is not operational so rescue there has not begun full scale. A lot of time has lapsed now and finding any more survivors is difficult. We expect the death toll to double at least," said another officer engaged in rescue work in Nepal.

Until now, NDRF has rescued 10 people alive while fished out 60 dead bodies.