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WATCH: Terrifying avalanche video comes to light

27 April 2015, 14:53

Mount Everest - A German climber has filmed a terrifying video of an avalanche barrelling towards the base camp at Mount Everest following the Nepal earthquake.

The footage was captured by German climber Jost Kobusch on Saturday, showing the camp of yellow tents at the base of the mountain as he realises "the ground is shaking", the Independent reported on Monday.

WARNING: Video contains strong language.

Tourists in Nepal, meanwhile, 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".

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 travellers home. A total of 260 Israeli military personnel are traveling to Nepal for the mission.

The military says about 150 Israeli travellers 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 Colonel Yoram Laredo, head of the Israeli military mission.

Makeshift shelters

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, spokesperson Zaki Heller said.

International aid agency Oxfam says it 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.

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, 80km 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."


Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesperson, 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."

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% 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."

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia has dispatched a 9-person crisis response team that is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu later on 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.

New Zealand is sending 37 urban search and rescue experts to Kathmandu. They are scheduled to leave on 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 $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.

On Monday morning, some pharmacies, groceries and shops selling basic provisions opened while bakeries began offering fresh bread. Long lines of people desperate to secure fuel formed outside gasoline stations. Fuel prices remained the same as they were before the quake.

A sense of eerie calm and uneasiness hangs over the capital, Kathmandu, as the aftershocks keep coming for a third day after the massive quake on Saturday. People are still trying to absorb what's happening to them and their city. Part of their anxiety appears to be fuelled by a near complete absence of any real information.

Power lines are down and there is almost no Internet connectivity. Phone connections are spotty at best. Most people are camped outdoors so even where there is limited power back up there's no TV news to watch. This has made them anxious to buy newspapers every morning.

Safety check

Near Kathmandu's famed Dharahara Tower, reduced to an enormous pile of red brick dust, dozens of people were clambering around the debris clicking smiling selfies and photos of their friends posing.

"This is earthquake tourism. This is not right," said 21-year-old business student Pawan Thapa who arrived from the suburbs to see how he could help. "They are more interested in clicking their selfies than understanding that it is a tragedy."

Facebook has activated its "Safety Check" feature in response to the earthquake in Nepal. The feature, launched in October, allows users to tell friends and family they are safe if they are in the middle of a disaster area.

Facebook engineers in Japan started development on the feature after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The Kathmandu earthquake was one of the first natural disasters where it has been used.

Google, which lost an employee in an avalanche as a result of the earthquake, has activated its own disaster tool called "Person Finder" http://google.org/personfinder/2015-nepal-earthquake/ and is updating satellite imagery to help with relief efforts. Google is also donating $1m toward relief efforts, the company said.

Japan says it will provide emergency relief goods such as tents and blankets worth $210 000 to Nepal, through the Japan International Co-operation Agency following the massive earthquake on Saturday.

In Kathmandu, those who came to help are frightened, too. Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal says tents and water are being handed at 10 locations in Nepal's capital, but that the many aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery.

He says that "even the rescuers are scared and running because of them."

- AP


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