One week after a massive earthquake wrought destruction across Nepal, the country has ruled out the possibility of finding more survivors under the rubble, authorities said Saturday. The death toll from the powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake now stands at over 6,700.
Authorities reportedly said that the focus is now shifting to reach out to survivors awaiting relief supplies in remote areas of the Himalayan nation. Aid finally began arriving in Bunkot, a remote group of villages in the Himalayan foothills, authorities said Saturday. The epicenter of Nepal’s earthquake was the Gorkha District -- about 65 miles from Kathmandu -- which is home to about 270,000 people.
"We are trying our best in rescue and relief work but now I don't think that there is any possibility of survivors," Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Rameshwor Dangal, joint secretary of Nepal's National Disaster Management Division, told AFP: “In many areas people are not getting relief and it is natural that they are unhappy about it," adding: "We estimate that there may still be around 1,000 people in Sindhupalchowk and Rasuwa areas who need to be rescued. This includes the injured and the stranded people, including the foreigners."
On Friday, the Red Cross said that towns and villages near the epicenter of the earthquake had suffered “almost total devastation,” with rescue teams finding several survivors in a “desperate situation.”
Nepal renewed its appeal to international donors on Friday to send aid supplies and tents for temporary shelter, while Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat appealed for help saying that the country would need at least $2 billion for the rebuilding effort.
Nearly 1,000 Europeans are missing in Nepal following the earthquake, a European Union official reportedly said. “Of course doesn't mean they are dead. It just means they haven't reported back," Rensje Teerink, EU's ambassador to Nepal, told reporters Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Last Saturday's quake -- the deadliest to hit Nepal in 80 years -- has affected nearly 8 million people across 39 districts, and over 100 people have reportedly died in neighboring India, Tibet and Bangladesh. Over 14,000 people have been injured while thousands remain unaccounted for.