HUMANITARIAN volunteers and emergency service crews from the UK have begun a search and rescue mission in Nepal, following the earthquake which left more than 3,500 dead and thousands of others injured.
Communication problems in the worst-affected areas mean families and friends around the world are still anxiously waiting for news of their loved one, with dozens of British and Irish people among those missing.
The DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal has also been launched and is being fronted by actress Joanna Lumley. Money raised will support the efforts of DEC members to reach families affected by Saturday’s 7.8 quake which struck west of the capital Kathmandu.
The Mail reported how Ellis Stewart, 41, was hit by an icefall while on Mount Everest during his bid to reach the world’s highest summit.
It’s understood the falling ice and snow has killed at least 17, injured 61 and left an unknown number of climbers and guides unaccounted for on other routes. More than 4,000 people are thought to have been killed by the earthquake.
Ms Lumley says: “Like so many others watching the shocking images from Nepal over the last few days, I’m deeply saddened by events and my thoughts are with all those struggling to survive.
“The Nepalese are a resilient people but this catastrophe has hit them very hard. They’re desperately in need of life-saving help and I hope people in the UK will support us.”
An RAF plane packed with supplies has been dispatched to the crisis zone, while charity workers, experts and fire fighters from across the UK have already begun the search for survivors.
They took with them more than 11 tonnes of kit, including torches, axes, rope, search cameras, stretchers and tents.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross said: “As the death toll continues to rise it is our absolute priority to continue the search and rescue operations and get aid to those left stranded.
Aftershocks have been felt with remote villages still to be reached, cut-off by landslides and communications wiped out.
All 13 DEC member agencies have joined the appeal and are starting to get life-saving aid to those most in need.
The first £5 million of public donations to the DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal will be matched by UK aid through the Department for International Development.
DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed says: “The sheer scale of this emergency and the effort required to help the people of Nepal recover is only now becoming clear.”
“Survivors are in need of medical help, food, water and shelter. In many cases they’ve lost everything and our members are ready to help them not just survive but to rebuild their lives.”
To make a donation to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal http://www.dec.org.uk, or call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.
What your money will buy:
• £25 Water purification tablets for ten families for a month
• £50 Feed a family for two weeks
• £100 Emergency shelter and bedding for one family