Tuesday, April 28th5.5°C
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Aftershocks waning

10.00 a.m.

Army troops are loading blue tarpaulin sheets, medical kits and dehydrated food, water bottles, sacks of rice and blankets at a flat area that is being used as a helipad in Gorkha town.

Gorkha district was the epicenter of Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake that has killed more than 4,300 people.

With the weather clearing it seems that for now helicopters will be able to pick up the supplies and relay to smaller villages.

The weather has been erratic over the last two days — there has been some rain and cloud cover making it difficult for helicopters to land in some areas close to the epicenter.

9.45 a.m.

A team of 37 New Zealand urban search-and-rescue experts due to leave Monday night for Kathmandu has been told at the 11th hour not to come.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement that Nepal's government had informed him they had enough expertise in the country and the team was no longer required.

New Zealand has contributed 1 million New Zealand dollars ($761,000) to the relief effort following Saturday's earthquake that killed more than 4,300 people.

9.30 a.m.

Army troops are loading bags of rice and cornmeal into a storage room at the district headquarters in Gorkha, the epicenter of Saturday's massive earthquake.

District official Surya Mohan Adhikari says the supplies will be sent out later in the day to villages that need them most.

He said that in the rural areas 90 per cent of the people have been affected "by this calamity. They have lost their homes and livestock. They have no way of getting food."

He says it is very difficult to reach them. They are cut off by landslides on the mountain roads, and the wind and rain is making it difficult for helicopters to land.

Adhikari said they have reports of some 300 casualties, but that number is rising. Nationwide, more than 4,300 people have been killed in the magnitude 7.8 quake.

9.00 a.m. 

A Nepal police official says at least 4,352 bodies have so far been recovered after last week's massive earthquake that struck just outside of capital Kathmandu.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam says the toll includes 1,176 bodies recovered in Sindhupalchuk district, just northeast of the capital.

He says 8,063 people have been injured in the magnitude 7.8 quake.

Another 18 people were also killed in a quake-triggered avalanche that swept the Everest base camp. In neighbouring India 61 people were killed and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet.

8.45 a.m. 

A local seismologist says major aftershocks are now unlikely to occur as the 72-hour mark after Saturday's devastating earthquake approaches.

Lok Bijaya Adhikari, chief of Nepal's National Seismological Center, says the number and strength of aftershocks have been receding. There have been more than 100 aftershocks since Saturday's magnitude 7.8 temblor that left more than 4,300 people confirmed dead so far. The largest of these was magnitude 6.7 on Sunday.

The ground shook Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. but measured only magnitude 4.5.

Smaller aftershocks are expected to continue for a month and Kathmandu residents could continue to feel tremors because the epicenter is close to the city.

8.15 a.m. 

Health workers fear a major health crisis among the survivors of Saturday's massive earthquake who are living in the open or in crowded tents with no access to sanitation or clean water.

Baburam Marasini, director of Nepal's Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, says their main concern is making sure people get clean water.

He says "we fear diseases." He says the department is asking people to take precautions such as eating with a clean spoon and not with their hands as most people here normally do.

He says people are also being asked to drink clean water. Attempts are also being made to reach rural areas quickly where a clear picture of the death toll — now more than 4,300 — is still not available.

8.15 a.m. 

A government official says business owners are being asked to open their shops amid anxiety among locals about dwindling food and medical supplies in the wake of Saturday's earthquake that has left more than 4,300 people dead.

Naindra Prasad Upadhaya, an official at the Commerce and Supplies Ministry says the government has made arrangements to pick up food and supplies directly from factories and distribute them free in areas where necessary.

Water has been the big issue. There will be more tankers bringing water to the areas where people are camped out in Kathmandu and surrounding areas, he says. Food will also be sent to the rural areas on helicopters, he says.

Police are on the lookout for businesses that are overcharging to take advantage of demand and scarcity, and such people will be arrested and punished, he said.

The Canadian Press




Mac n cheese clears capitol

A burnt bowl of macaroni and cheese forced a brief evacuation at the Iowa capitol.

Iowa Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter says somebody's lunch burned in a microwave Monday behind the Senate Chambers on the second floor of the Capitol building.

He says the smoke prompted a short evacuation of the entire building during the morning.

Hunter says he's not aware of any property damage or injuries.

The Canadian Press


Two killed at funeral

Five people have been shot outside a New York City church where a funeral was in progress, and two of them have died.

It happened Monday night outside the Emmanuel Church of God in Brooklyn's East Flatbush neighbourhood.

Police say the victims have been taken to hospitals. There have been no arrests.

Police say a sixth shooting victim was found nearby, but it wasn't clear if that person was connected to the same shooting.

No other details are available.

The Canadian Press


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State of emergency

Rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers hours after thousands mourned the man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody.

The governor declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore order, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her first day on the job, said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days. A weeklong, daily curfew was imposed beginning Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the mayor said, and Baltimore public schools announced that they would be closed on Tuesday. At least 15 officers were hurt, and some two dozen people were arrested. Two officers remained hospitalized, police said.

"The National Guard represents the last resort in restoring order," Gov. Larry Hogan told a news conference. "I have not made this decision lightly."

Officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations to keep protesters at bay.

Monday's riot was the latest flare-up over the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, whose fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects are involved. Gray was African-American. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.

Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm in the affected parts of the city of more than 620,000 people. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a CVS store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings. Later Monday night, a massive fire erupted in East Baltimore that a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake initially said was connected to the riots. He later texted an AP reporter saying officials are still investigating whether there is a connection.

The Mary Harvin Transformation Center was under construction and no one was believed to be in the building at the time, said the spokesman, Kevin Harris. The centre is described online as a community-based organization that supports youth and families.

The smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighbourhood where youths were looting a liquor store. Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and other small fires were scattered about. One person from a church tried to shout something from a megaphone as two cars burned.

"Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs, who in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for, tearing down businesses, tearing down and destroying property, things that we know will impact our community for years," said Rawlings-Blake, a lifelong resident of the city.

Grey's family was shocked by the violence and was lying low; instead, they hoped to organize a peace march later in the week, said family attorney Billy Murphy. He said they did not know the riot was going to happen and urged calm.

"They don't want this movement nationally to be marred by violence," he said. "It makes no sense."

Police urged parents to locate their children and bring them home. Many of those on the streets appeared to be African-American youths, wearing backpacks and khaki pants that are a part of many public school uniforms.

The riot broke out just as high school let out, and at a key city bus depot for student commuters around Mondawmin Mall, a shopping area northwest of downtown Baltimore. It shifted about a mile away later to the heart of an older shopping district and near where Gray first encountered police. Both commercial areas are in African-American neighbourhoods.

Later in the day, people began looting clothing and other items from stores at the mall, which became unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets.

Downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor tourist attractions and the city's baseball and football stadiums are nearly 4 miles away. While the violence had not yet reached City Hall and the Camden Yards area, the Orioles cancelled Monday's game for safety precautions.

On Monday night, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and about 200 others, mostly men, marched arm-in-arm through a neighbourhood littered with broken glass, flattened aluminum cans and other debris, to protest Gray's death. As they got close to a line of police officers, the marchers went down on their knees. After the ministers got back on their feet, they walked until they were face-to-face with the police officers in a tight formation and wearing riot gear.

In a statement issued Monday, Attorney General Lynch said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days, including Vanita Gupta, the agency's top civil rights lawyer. The FBI and Justice Department are investigating Gray's death for potential criminal civil rights violations.

Many who had never met Gray gathered earlier in the day in a Baltimore church to bid him farewell and press for more accountability among law enforcement.

The 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church was filled with mourners. But even the funeral could not ease mounting tensions.

Police said in a news release sent while the funeral was underway that the department had received a "credible threat" that three notoriously violent gangs are now working together to "take out" law enforcement officers.

A small group of mourners started lining up about two hours ahead of Monday's funeral. Placed atop Gray's body was a white pillow with a screened picture of him. A projector aimed at two screens on the walls showed the words "Black Lives Matter & All Lives Matter."

The service lasted nearly two hours, with dignitaries in attendance including former Maryland representative and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume and current Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes.

With the Rev. Jesse Jackson sitting behind him, the Rev. Jamal Bryant gave a rousing and spirited eulogy for Freddie Gray, a message that received a standing ovation from the crowded church.

Bryant said Gray's death would spur further protests, and he urged those in the audience to join.

"Freddie's death is not in vain," Bryant said. "After this day, we're going to keep on marching. After this day, we're going to keep demanding justice."

Grey was arrested after making eye contact with officers and then running away, police said. He was held down, handcuffed and loaded into a van without a seat belt. Leg cuffs were put on him when he became irate inside.

He asked for medical help several times even before being put in the van, but paramedics were not called until after a 30-minute ride. Police have acknowledged he should have received medical attention on the spot where he was arrested, but they have not said how his spine was injured.

The Canadian Press


4 DUIs, 2 days, 1 driver

A Rhode Island man who racked up four drunken driving arrests in less than 48 hours is heading to prison.

Fifty-three-year-old John Lourenco was sentenced Monday to two years in the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute. He must pay a $3,400 fine and attend alcohol counselling. His license will be suspended for eight years once he is released from prison.

Lourenco was arrested Sept. 14 in Providence for drunken driving. He was arrested three times the next day in Cumberland for the same charge.

Police say he crashed into three cars and a tree.

After the first three arrests, Lourenco was released with summonses to the custody of his parents. After the fourth crash, he was held for arraignment.

A message left for Lourenco's attorney wasn't immediately returned.

The Canadian Press


Protest violence flares up

4:15 p.m.

Hundreds of youths outside a mall in northwest Baltimore are clashing violently with police in riot gear, throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at the officers.

Baltimore police say on Twitter that several officers have been injured. Officers are using pepper-spray to keep the protesters back.

A flier circulated on social media called for a period of violence Monday afternoon to begin at the Mondawmin Mall and move downtown toward City Hall.

Earlier in the day, thousands gathered for Freddie Gray's funeral. Gray died of an unexplained spinal injury while in police custody.

Outside the mall, a young person threw a flaming trash can at the line of officers, igniting a patch of grass nearby.

Police said at least one officer was injured after being hit by a flying brick.

4 p.m.

People are throwing rocks and bricks at police in riot gear near a Baltimore mall.

Dozens of people were throwing objects at police, just hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray.

Gray died of a mysterious spinal injury while in police custody. Baltimore police say on Twitter that a few officers have been hurt in the chaos.

Officers are advancing on the crowd, and at times retreating when the objects are thrown.

3:30 p.m.

Numerous police officers in riot gear have responded to a mall in northwest Baltimore and the mall is closed.

Images broadcast by WJZ-TV show a line of officers with helmets and face shields blocking off the mall's parking lot. Some people were throwing objects at officers and a police armoured vehicle.

It's not immediately clear if the response was related to a Freddie Gray protest. One man held his arms up as the police moved toward him, an action that has been repeated throughout the Gray rallies.

Gray died of an unexplained spinal injury he suffered in police custody.

2 p.m.

The University of Maryland campus in downtown Baltimore shut down its campus at 2 p.m., saying it has been warned by the Baltimore Police Department that "activities" in the area may turn violent.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the activities had anything to do with Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal injury while in police custody. Demonstrators angry over Gray's death have become violent at times.

In an alert to students and staff, the university says "the safety of our students and employees is of paramount importance. Please vacate the campus as soon as possible."

School spokesman Alex Likowski said he didn't know what type of activity might be passing through campus or what prompted the warning from police.

The university's main campus is in College Park, about 30 miles south of Baltimore.

1:45 p.m.

The funeral for Freddie Gray has ended after a service of nearly two hours.

The dignitaries attending included long-time activist Dick Gregory, former Maryland representative and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume and current Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes.

The casket was rolled out of the church with the family following behind. Within minutes, the entire church was empty, leaving the musicians to play a rousing processional.

As people left, there was an image of Gray projected on the screens flanking the altar. It showed him wearing a striped polo shirt, baseball cap, pants and sneakers. The front of the program read, "Loving Memory, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr."

Gray died of a mysterious spinal injury he suffered while in police custody.

The NAACP says it's opening a satellite office in Freddie Gray's Baltimore neighbourhood, known as Sandtown.

In a statement on the organization's Facebook page, the NAACP said its police reform action in Baltimore dates back to the 1980s, and has involved targeting racial profiling cases. The NAACP said it also filed legal action involving traffic stops targeting black people and another one involving a high rate of incarceration of black people in the city.

Grey, who is black, died of an unexplained injury he suffered in police custody.

The satellite office in Gray's neighbourhood will include legal support from the national office, the NAACP said.

It's unclear when the office will open.

12:40 p.m.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings is speaking at the funeral for Freddie Gray.

Cummings looked at the multitude of cameras along the rail of the balcony at New Shiloh Baptist Church and said: "I ain't seen this many cameras in a long time."

Grey died of a mysterious spinal injury while he was in police custody.

The congressman mentioned his own nephew, who was gunned down several years ago in Norfolk, Virginia. He said an assailant has never been tracked down and arrested.

"We will not rest until we address this and see that justice is done," he said of the Gray case. "And so, this is our watch. We will not fail you."

12:30 p.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says he plans to meet with activists and faith leaders in Baltimore to schedule a two-day march from Baltimore to Washington in May.

He says the march will aim to bring the cases of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Eric Harris to the attention of new Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

In a statement Monday before Gray's funeral, Sharpton says he had been resisting getting personally involved because he wanted to wait until he saw what the police department's investigation found. But now he says since the department's report may not be released publicly, he has decided to travel to Baltimore.

Police have said the department would release its report to the State's Attorney's office on Friday and send out updates when new information is available.

Grey died of an unexplained spinal injury while in police custody.

12:20 p.m.

The attorney for Freddie Gray's family has received a standing ovation during Gray's funeral.

Billy Murphy called on the six officers suspended during the investigation into Gray's death to come forward and tell the story "just like we tell our citizens to do."

"This is our moment to get at truth. This is our moment to get it right," he said.

Grey died of an unexplained spinal injury he suffered while in police custody. Five of the six officers have given their statements to investigators.

Murphy asked for prayers for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, "who is struggling mightily with this," a statement that brought more applause.

12:10 p.m.

Baltimore police say the department believes three notoriously violent gangs are now working together to "take out" law enforcement officers.

In a statement Monday, the department called it a "credible threat" and said members of the Black Guerilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips have formed a partnership against the police.

The department warned other law enforcement agencies to "take appropriate precautions."

The police statement came as mourners gathered for the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died of a mysterious spinal injury while in police custody.

Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk would not say whether the threat is related to the death of Gray. Kowalczyk said the threat announcement has been circulated to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Earlier this year, Baltimore police said the Black Guerilla Family sent a man into the Northeastern District station house with marijuana, cocaine and a loaded gun to test the station's security.

12 p.m.

The daughter of Eric Garner, who died of a chokehold in the custody of New York City police, is at the funeral of Freddie Gray.

Gray suffered critical spinal injuries while he was in Baltimore police custody.

Erica Garner, 24, says she came Monday because watching the video of Gray crying out when he was arrested reminded her of the crying and agony that her father went through.

"My father was yelling out, 'I can't breathe and (Gray) was yelling out — he didn't have any words but he was just hurt," she said.

She says she hasn't met Gray's family, but would tell them: "I feel your pain. I know what you're going through. Stay strong and continue to fight."

Garner died last July after police placed him in a chokehold on a Staten Island street.

11:45 a.m.

The funeral for Freddie Gray has started with songs and prayer.

Grey died after suffering a critical spinal injury while he was in police custody. His death has prompted marches and rallies for the more than a week.

The church, which has a capacity of 2,500, is full of mourners.

Just before the start of the service, members of the Gray family gathered in front of the casket for a second time. Gloria Darden, Gray's mother, sat down, and someone handed her a box of tissues.

The casket is closed and a wreath of white roses is on top of it.

The Canadian Press


Is Canada doing enough?

A Montreal woman trying to get home from earthquake-hit Nepal says Ottawa isn't doing enough to help expats and travellers stranded in the stricken country.

Emilie-Anne Leroux says that while other countries have pulled out all the stops to get their citizens home, she and other Canadians she knows haven't received so much as a phone call from officials despite having registered as being in Nepal.

Leroux, who is in Nepal working for the International Organization for Migration, says that's left some people feeling neglected and "very panicky."

"I feel like they haven't reached out any type of support or help," Leroux said from the UN House in Kathmandu, where she and a handful of other Canadians have been staying and helping to co-ordinate aid efforts.

"It's just frustrating — compared to the Australian embassy, who have booked hotels, picked up people at their apartments, helped them get their (stuff) out and fly them home if they want to, I think the Canadian government is showing a very poor example of how much it cares for its citizens who choose to work abroad for development."

The 28-year-old was trying to get back to Canada to be with her father, who is having heart surgery, when the earthquake hit.

She says the airline could only rebook her on a flight Wednesday and she can't afford an earlier, pricier ticket.

Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake, centred outside the capital city Kathmandu, was the worst to hit the South Asian nation of 31 million in more than 80 years and has left more than 3,900 dead.

The Foreign Affairs Department said there are 462 Canadians registered as being in Nepal, but cautioned that's only an estimate because registration is voluntary.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said the government's Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa and Canadian offices abroad are working with local authorities and providing consular assistance to Canadian citizens.

Francois Lasalle said that to date, the department has deployed six additional people to the affected region and officials continue to try to reach Canadians believed to be in the area.

The Canadian government is sending a disaster assessment team to Nepal and is contributing $5 million to relief efforts, Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson's office said on the weekend.

The assessment team was part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team, known as DART. The military team is designed to deploy on short notice to deal with natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies.

The Ontario government also announced Monday it will contribute $1 million to the Red Cross's relief efforts in Nepal. Members of legislature also held a moment of silence to honour victims of the deadly disaster.

Some Canadians are still anxiously awaiting news of relatives they hope survived the devastating quake.

Faye Kennedy's family says they're worried the Ottawa resident — an experienced hiker who was trekking in Langtang National Park — may soon run out of food.

"We hope to hear from her soon and that more resources have been dedicated to those trapped in rural areas of Nepal," they said in a statement.

"We're encouraged that the government of Canada has pledged funds and DART assistance, and hope more can be done in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years ahead."

The Canadian Press


Quake toll tops 4,000

Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal's earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families' needs. In much of the countryside, it was worse, though how much worse was only beginning to become apparent.

The official death toll soared past 4,000, even without a full accounting from vulnerable mountain villages that rescue workers were still struggling to reach two days after the disaster.

Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district, where Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake was centred, said he was in desperate need of help.

"There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I've had reports of villages where 70 per cent of the houses have been destroyed," he said.

Aid group World Vision said its staff members were able to reach Gorkha, but gathering information from the villages remained a challenge. Even when roads are clear, the group said, some remote areas can be three days' walk from Gorkha's main disaster centre.

Some roads and trails have been blocked by landslides, the group said in an email to The Associated Press. "In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment."

Timalsina said 223 people had been confirmed dead in Gorkha district but he presumed "the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured." He said his district had not received enough help from the central government, but Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue operations.

"We have 90 per cent of the army out there working on search and rescue," he said. "We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives."

Saturday's earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.

Aid is coming from more than a dozen countries and many charities, but Lila Mani Poudyal, the government's chief secretary and the rescue co-ordinator, said Nepal needed more.

He said the recovery was also being slowed because many workers — water tanker drivers, electricity company employees and labourers needed to clear debris — "are all gone to their families and staying with them, refusing to work."

"We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines that the health department is seeking that we desperately need now," Poudyal told reporters. "We don't have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped."

As people are pulled from the wreckage, he noted, even more help is needed.

"Now we especially need orthopedic (doctors), nerve specialists, anaesthetists, surgeons and paramedics," he said. "We are appealing to foreign governments to send these specialized and smart teams."

About 7,180 people were injured in the quake, police said. Poudyal estimated that tens of thousands of people had been left homeless. "We have been under severe stress and pressure, and have not been able to reach the people who need help on time," he said.

The arrival of relief flights has caused major backups at Kathmandu's small airport.

Four Indian air force aircraft carrying aid supplies and rescue personnel were forced to return to New Delhi on Monday because of airport congestion, Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said. India planned to resend the planes later Monday night when the situation was expected to have eased.

Nepal's Home Ministry said the country's death toll had risen to 4,010 people. Another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India, and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 people dead in Tibet.

Well over 1,000 of the victims were in Kathmandu, the capital, where an eerie calm prevailed Monday.

Tens of thousands of families slept outdoors for a second night, fearful of aftershocks that have not ceased. Camped in parks, open squares and a golf course, they cuddled children or pets against chilly Himalayan nighttime temperatures.

They woke to the sound of dogs yelping and jackhammers. As the dawn light crawled across toppled building sites, volunteers and rescue workers carefully shifted broken concrete slabs and crumbled bricks mixed together with humble household items: pots and pans; a purple notebook decorated with butterflies; a framed poster of a bodybuilder; so many shoes.

"It's overwhelming. It's too much to think about," said 55-year-old Bijay Nakarmi, mourning his parents, whose bodies recovered from the rubble of what once was a three-story building.

He could tell how they died from their injuries. His mother was electrocuted by a live wire on the roof top. His father was cut down by falling beams on the staircase.

He had last seen them a few days earlier — on Nepal's Mothers' Day — for a cheerful family meal.

"I have their bodies by the river. They are resting until relatives can come to the funeral," Nakarmi said as workers continued searching for another five people buried underneath the wreckage.

Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said tents and water were being handed out Monday at 10 locations in Kathmandu, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery. The largest, on Sunday, was magnitude 6.7.

"There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them," he said.

"We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop," said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent Sunday with his niece's family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple.

Acrid, white smoke rose above the Hindu temple, Nepal's most revered. "I've watched hundreds of bodies burn," Dhungana said.

The capital city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings. The earthquake destroyed swaths of the oldest neighbourhoods, but many were surprised by how few modern structures collapsed in the quake.

On Monday morning, some pharmacies and shops for basic provisions opened while bakeries began offering fresh bread. Huge lines of people desperate to secure fuel lined up outside gasoline pumps, though prices were the same as they were before the earthquake struck.

With power lines down, spotty phone connections and almost no Internet connectivity, residents were particularly anxious to buy morning newspapers.

Pierre-Anne Dube, a 31-year-old from Canada, has been sleeping on the sidewalk outside a hotel. She said she's gone from the best experience of her life, a trek to Everest base camp, to the worst, enduring the earthquake and its aftermath.

"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 said.

The earthquake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan. Nepal's worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

The quake has put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

The Canadian Press


Stuck ducks answer the call

Quack! Quack! A duck call ringtone helped a Louisiana firefighter rescue six ducklings from a storm drain.
 

Spokesman Chad Duffaut of St. Tammany Fire District #1 says even with realistic quacking sounds coming from his cellphone, it took Firefighter Cody Knecht about 90 minutes to catch the first four baby mallards in the southeast Louisiana community of Slidell.

Duffaut says Knecht rescued the others after giving them about an hour to calm down.

All six ducklings were reunited with their mother Saturday in the canal behind a home, where residents had reported seeing the ducklings go into the drain.

Duffaut says it was fire station's second duck rescue in a week. On April 19, firefighters rescued a duck that got stuck in a chimney.

The Canadian Press


The 'Big One' still to come?

7:30 p.m. (1345 GMT, 9:45 a.m. EDT)

An engineer who works on earthquake risks says the 7.8-magnitude temblor that struck on Saturday may not be the Big One for Nepal.

GeoHazards International's Hari Kumar says: "We were expecting an 8-magnitude to happen along the Himalayas, this is not it."

Kumar is the Southeast Asia regional co-ordinator for the non-profit group that works on assessing and managing quake risks worldwide.

Immense seismic pressure is still building up along the Nepal-India border, and he says, "The stress which was developing west of this earthquake has not been released."

Nepal's worst recorded earthquake was an 8.0-magnitude temblor in 1934 that all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

Kumar said he hoped Nepal would be able to look beyond the horror and see a chance to rebuild properly. "For Kathmandu, this is their moment of change. I know it is a tragic time, many of their buildings are (fallen) down, but I think this is their time to turn it around."

— Archana Thiyagarajan, New Delhi

___

7:15 p.m. (1330 GMT, 9:30 a.m.)

World Vision aid worker Matt Darvas reached Nepal's Gorkha district, the epicenter of Saturday's powerful quake, early Monday afternoon. He said almost no aid had reached there ahead of him.

He told the AP by telephone: "It does not seem aid is reaching here very quickly."

Landslides and other destruction delayed attempts to reach the district earlier, but Gorkha is feared to have extensive damage.

Darvas says most of the newer concrete buildings were intact after the quake but remote mountainside villages were reportedly devastated.

He says, "Further north from here the reports are very disturbing." He says up to 75 per cent of the buildings in Singla may have collapsed and the village, a two-days walk away, has been out of contact since Saturday night.

Local officials lost contact with military and police who set out for Singla, and Darvas says helicopters have had to turn back because of clouds.

He says a few SUVs with foreign tourists bringing basic aid supplies had begun to reach Gorkha by early evening.

— Muneeza Naqvi, New Delhi

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6:15 p.m. (1230 GMT, 8:30 a.m.)

Chaos has reigned at Kathmandu's small airport since the earthquake, with the onslaught of relief flights causing major backups on the tarmac.

Sitanshu Kar, India's defence ministry spokesman, tweeted that four Indian air force aircraft carrying communication gear, aid supplies and rescue personnel were forced to return to New Delhi on Monday because of airport congestion.

India was planning to resend the two C-17 Globemasters, one C-130 Hercules and one Ilyushin IL-76 back to Nepal later Monday night, when the situation was expected to have eased.

Nepal's government says the needs of its people are acute, with 3,700 dead and the toll expected to rise. Also, more than 6,300 people are injured, and tens of thousands lost homes.

— Ashok Sharma, New Delhi.

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5:45 p.m. (1200 GMT, 8 a.m.)

All mountaineering on the Chinese side of Mount Everest was cancelled after Saturday's earthquake.

China's official Xinhua News Agency says more than 400 climbers from 20-plus countries were on the northern side of the world's highest mountain and were reported safe after they descended to lower elevations.

Xinhua quoted an official with the Tibetan bureau of sports as saying that an avalanche at 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) and the possibility of further aftershocks was considered to have made climbing too dangerous. There was no word on when the ban would be lifted.

The Chinese side of Everest is less popular with climbers, in part because a special permit is required to enter Tibet. But it is an alternative to the heavily trafficked Nepalese side, and it is growing popular especially with Chinese climbers.

— Christopher Bodeen, Beijing

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4:45 p.m. (1100 GMT, 7 a.m.)

Doctors Without Borders is sending eight teams to provide medical aid and other relief in Nepal after Saturday's earthquake.

The group says four of the teams were trying to crossing the border from India's Bihar state, a team from New Delhi is heading to Kathmandu and a team from Japan is heading to the Kathmandu Valley.

A team of eight staff with surgical skills left Brussels and will set up a surgery unit as well as run mobile clinics. And a team from Amsterdam is departing Monday with medical, water and sanitation relief.

The government says more than 6,300 people were injured in the quake and Nepal is short of medical staff, medicine and rescue helicopters to transport the injured.

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3.45 p.m. (1000 GMT, 6 a.m.)

Lila Mani Poudyal, the government's chief secretary and the rescue co-ordinator, appealed for more help from the international community, saying Nepal was short of everything from paramedics to electricity.

"We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines ... that we desperately need now," he told reporters. "We don't have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped."

Once people are pulled from the wreckage, he noted, even more help is needed, especially orthopedic doctors, nerve specialists, anesthetists, surgeons and paramedics. "We are appealing to foreign government to send these specialized and smart teams."

The recovery situation was also being slowed because many workers — water tanker drivers, electricity company employees, labourers to clear debris — have "all gone to their families and (are) staying with them, refusing to work."

— Binaj Gurubacharya, Kathmandu, Nepal

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3.30 p.m. (0945 GMT, 5:45 a.m.)

The French foreign minister says two French citizens have been confirmed dead.

Laurent Fabius said in a statement broadcast on French TV BFM that the two victims were killed in a landslide triggered by the quake.

Fabius said authorities have located 1,400 French people in Nepal and are still trying to contact 676 others. Ten French citizens are known to have been injured.

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3.15 p.m. (0930 GMT, 5:30 a.m.)

World Vision says its aid workers reached Gorkha district, the epicenter, but gathering information from the villages remains a challenge.

The group says some remote areas can be three days' walk from the main disaster centre in Gorkha even when the roads are clear.

"These remote areas don't have any search or rescue operations assistance as of this time. In some of the remote areas staff heading out for assessments are finding both the road and the trails blocked by landslides, making access extremely difficult," World Vision said by email.

"In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment."

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2.30 p.m. (0845 GMT, 4:45 a.m.)

A respected consultancy says the long-term cost of reconstruction after Saturday's earthquake could be more than $5 billion, or about 20 per cent of Nepal's GDP.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific Chief Economist for the Colorado-based consultancy services IHS, says Nepal has extremely limited capacity to finance relief efforts and reconstruction from its own resources.

"The total long-term cost of reconstruction in Nepal using appropriate building standards for regions vulnerable to severe earthquakes could exceed $5 billion, which is around 20 per cent of Nepal's GDP," he says.

Nepal's annual per capita GDP is only $1,000, and the average family lives in poverty.

"Massive international disaster relief and rescue efforts will be needed urgently, as well as large-scale international financial and technical assistance for long-term reconstruction of the economy," says Biswas.

— Muneeza Naqvi, New Delhi

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1.45 p.m. (0800 GMT, 4 a.m.)

Nepal's police say at least 3,617 people have been confirmed killed in Saturday's earthquake, including 1,302 in the Kathmandu Valley alone.

In addition, 6,515 people were injured nationwide, the police department said in a tweet.

So far, 18 people have been confirmed dead on Mount Everest, where an avalanche swept through base camp after the earthquake. Another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India.

__

1:15 p.m. (0730 GMT, 3:30 a.m.)

Foreign tourists in Nepal 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."

— Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal.

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1:15 p.m. (0730 GMT, 3:30 a.m.)

An Israeli military search and rescue crew was sent 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 travelling to Nepal for the mission.

The military says about 150 Israeli travellers have yet to establish contact after the earthquake.

"The idea is to arrive and to try to establish communication with them," said Col. Yoram Laredo, head of the Israeli military mission.

In addition, Israel's emergency response service, Magen David Adom, is flying home 18 Israelis who travelled to Nepal to receive babies born to Nepalese surrogate mothers, spokesman Zaki Heller said.

— Daniel Estrin, Jerusalem

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1 p.m. (0645 GMT, 2:45 a.m.)

Oxfam says it is gearing up to deliver clean water and sanitation supplies to thousands of Nepalis now left homeless. The aid group estimates that some 30,000 people are living in makeshift shelters in 16 government camps, too scared to return to their homes for fear of aftershocks.

"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," said Cecilia Keizer, Oxfam country director in Nepal.

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11:45 a.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m.)

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, 80 kilometres (50 miles) 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."

__

11:20 a.m. (0540 GMT, 1:40 a.m.)

Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, says nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army is involved in rescue operations.

"90 per cent of the army's out there working on search and rescue," he said. "We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives."

— Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal

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11:15 a.m. (0530 GMT, 1:30 a.m.)

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 centred, 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 per cent 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."

— Katy Daigle, Kathmandu, Nepal

The Canadian Press


No selfie sticks, please

Tennis fans going to Wimbledon this year can leave their selfie sticks at home.

The Grand Slam tennis tournament has become the latest sports event to ban the use of the devices, with organizers calling them a "nuisance."

The All England Club says the decision was made so that selfie sticks don't "interfere with spectators' enjoyment" during the June 29-July 12 championships.

Selfie sticks are common sights at sports and music venues around the world, as fans use the pole-like device to grasp smartphones and snap self-portraits.

Churchill Downs, which stages the Kentucky Derby, announced this month that selfie sticks were banned for the May 2 race.

A Wimbledon ticketholders' guide says "in common with many other major sports and entertainment events and cultural attractions, The Championships will not allow selfie sticks into the grounds."

The Canadian Press


Disaster needs mount

Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal's earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families' needs. In much of the countryside, it was worse, though how much worse was only beginning to become apparent.

The death toll soared past 3,700, even without a full accounting from vulnerable mountain villages that rescue workers were still struggling to reach two days after the disaster.

Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the Gorkha district, where Saturday's magnitude 7.8 quake was centred, said he was in desperate need of help.

"There are people who are not getting food and shelter. I've had reports of villages where 70 per cent of the houses have been destroyed," he said.

Aid group World Vision said its staff members were able to reach Gorkha, but gathering information from the villages remained a challenge. Even when roads are clear, the group said, some remote areas can be three days' walk from Gorkha's main disaster centre.

Some roads and trails have been blocked by landslides, the group said in an email to The Associated Press. "In those villages that have been reached, the immediate needs are great including the need for search and rescue, food items, blankets and tarps, and medical treatment."

Timalsina said 223 people had been confirmed dead in Gorkha district but he presumed "the number would go up because there are thousands who are injured." He said his district had not received enough help from the central government, but Jagdish Pokhrel, the clearly exhausted army spokesman, said nearly the entire 100,000-soldier army was involved in rescue operations.

"We have 90 per cent of the army out there working on search and rescue," he said. "We are focusing our efforts on that, on saving lives."

Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.

Aid is coming from more than a dozen countries and many charities, but Lila Mani Poudyal, the government's chief secretary and the rescue co-ordinator, said Nepal needed more.

He said the recovery was also being slowed because many workers — water tanker drivers, electricity company employees and labourers needed to clear debris — "are all gone to their families and staying with them, refusing to work."

"We are appealing for tents, dry goods, blankets, mattresses, and 80 different medicines that the health department is seeking that we desperately need now," Poudyal told reporters. "We don't have the helicopters that we need or the expertise to rescue the people trapped."

As people are pulled from the wreckage, he noted, even more help is needed.

"Now we especially need orthopedic (doctors), nerve specialists, anaesthetists, surgeons and paramedics," he said. "We are appealing to foreign governments to send these specialized and smart teams."

More than 6,300 people were injured in the quake, he said, estimating that tens of thousands of people had been left homeless. "We have been under severe stress and pressure, and have not been able to reach the people who need help on time," he said.

Nepal police said in a statement that the country's death toll had risen to 3,617 people. That does not include the 18 people killed in the avalanche, which were counted by the mountaineering association. Another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India, and China reported 20 people dead in Tibet.

Well over 1,000 of the victims were in Kathmandu, the capital, where an eerie calm prevailed Monday.

Tens of thousands of families slept outdoors for a second night, fearful of aftershocks that have not ceased. Camped in parks, open squares and a golf course, they cuddled children or pets against chilly Himalayan nighttime temperatures.

They woke to the sound of dogs yelping and jackhammers. As the dawn light crawled across toppled building sites, volunteers and rescue workers carefully shifted broken concrete slabs and crumbled bricks mixed together with humble household items: pots and pans; a purple notebook decorated with butterflies; a framed poster of a bodybuilder; so many shoes.

"It's overwhelming. It's too much to think about," said 55-year-old Bijay Nakarmi, mourning his parents, whose bodies recovered from the rubble of what once was a three-story building.

He could tell how they died from their injuries. His mother was electrocuted by a live wire on the roof top. His father was cut down by falling beams on the staircase.

He had last seen them a few days earlier — on Nepal's Mothers' Day — for a cheerful family meal.

"I have their bodies by the river. They are resting until relatives can come to the funeral," Nakarmi said as workers continued searching for another five people buried underneath the wreckage.

Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said tents and water were being handed out Monday at 10 locations in Kathmandu, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery. The largest, on Sunday, was magnitude 6.7.

"There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them," he said.

"We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop," said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent Sunday with his niece's family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple.

Acrid, white smoke rose above the Hindu temple, Nepal's most revered. "I've watched hundreds of bodies burn," Dhungana said.

The capital city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings. The earthquake destroyed swaths of the oldest neighbourhoods, but many were surprised by how few modern structures collapsed in the quake.

On Monday morning, some pharmacies and shops for basic provisions opened while bakeries began offering fresh bread. Huge lines of people desperate to secure fuel lined up outside gasoline pumps, though prices were the same as they were before the earthquake struck.

With power lines down, spotty phone connections and almost no Internet connectivity, residents were particularly anxious to buy morning newspapers.

Pierre-Anne Dube, a 31-year-old from Canada, has been sleeping on the sidewalk outside a hotel. She said she's gone from the best experience of her life, a trek to Everest base camp, to the worst, enduring the earthquake and its aftermath.

"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 said.

The earthquake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan. Nepal's worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

The quake has put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

The Canadian Press


Trying to reach loved ones

After the earthquake hit Nepal, Prem Raja Mahat spent a sleepless night at his Baltimore home, trying again and again to reach his son, who was visiting friends and family back in Mahat's home country.

"My wife was crying, crying so much, 'My son is not here, keep calling, keep calling.' All night I called, but I could not get through," he said. "I could not work. I could not sleep. Everyone felt so bad."

Power outages and communications problems have made life agonizing for the nearly 6 million Nepalese who live abroad — or about 22 per cent of the population. They try desperately to reach loved ones through cellphones and global messaging apps, only to be met with silence or fleeting connections. They're forced to wait for word to slowly trickle out of the impoverished country of 28 million whose communications have been shaken back to a different era.

The lucky ones received a quick call or text or an early posting on Facebook. But even they have had plenty of time to wait and wonder, as they viewed the devastation on TV and social media, how their loved ones were holding up, what they needed and when they might hear from them again.

Mahat is known to millions in Nepal as the "King of Folk Music," though he has run restaurants in Baltimore for years. He said Monday in a phone interview that his son finally managed to reach him after he borrowed a charged phone.

"He is in a tent, staying outside of the home, under the skies," Mahat said. "They are still not feeling safe because the earth is quaking" from aftershocks.

Access to electricity was usually the difference between whether separated family members were able to reach each other. People in Nepal relied on cars, solar sources and machines that save up energy for intermittent blackouts to charge up phones or sometimes get online, according to interviews with relatives outside the country.

Landlines and most cellphones weren't working in lots of places, Mahat said, but when a power source was found, his son told him that people shared their charged phones, passing them around so everyone can try to contact people outside the country and tell them they are OK.

Two days after the disaster, rescue workers were still trying to navigate landslides and reach small mountain villages, where aid groups suggested the damage could be terrible. This is the worst earthquake to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years.

These expats tried everything they could think of to connect — phone calls, text messages, social media apps, friends of friends in those parts of Nepal less harder hit by the quake and so with better communications.

Damodar Gautam, a chef at Durga, a Nepalese restaurant in downtown Seoul, said he hadn't been able to talk on the phone with his family, but he managed to connect right after the news broke via Facebook and Viber, a messaging app. Gautam, who has been in Seoul for three years, said there were some injuries but mostly everyone is OK.

Since that first contact, he said, Internet connections have been bad. Occasionally, he has been able to send a text message and get a reply. He said people were using cars and solar power to charge their phones. Success in getting through, he said, often depends on a family member's particular situation, such as whether they had a power source and how much damage had happened around them.

The earthquake Saturday hit the capital, Kathmandu, but also small villages and the slopes of Mount Everest, where an avalanche buried part of a base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to try for the summit.

K.P. Sitoula, who runs a restaurant in Seoul, says his family members in Nepal made it through in good condition because they live in a part of Kathmandu near the airport that has escaped much of the devastation the rest of the capital has seen.

The 46-year-old, who has lived in South Korea for 23 years, called his parents five minutes after he saw the news of the quake, and was told that they and his brothers and sisters were safe, although they'd been forced to take shelter in a nearby school.

Bigyan Bhandari, a 28-year-old Nepalese who works at Sitoula's restaurant, said he was finally able to talk with his loved ones in Kathmandu after dozens of unsuccessful attempts to call them. "I miss my family members ... too much," he said, tears welling in his eyes.

Mahat, the folk singer and restaurateur, has tried to call other friends and family members, as well as other senior officials he knows, but he can't get through.

He is, however, luckier than most because of his celebrity. He got a call from a friend who's a high-ranking police official in Kathmandu, where more than 1,000 people were killed. That official has regular power and has been able to give Mahat updates on other friends and family members and what the local police are doing to try to help.

"The people (in Nepal) do not have the communications, the television or the computers, so we (outside Nepal) do not know anything about what's going on," Mahat said. "We want to tell them how much we are doing to try to help them ... We need to know that they are OK or not. There is heartbreaking news about what is happening, but we still want to know."

The Canadian Press


Death toll passes 3,000

The death toll from Nepal's earthquake rose to 3,218 on Monday, two days after the massive quake ripped across this Himalayan nation, leaving tens of thousands shell-shocked and sleeping in streets.

Aid groups received the first word from remote mountain villages — reports that suggested many communities perched on mountainsides were devastated or struggling to cope.

Landslides hindered rescue teams that tried to use mountain trails to reach those in need, said Prakash Subedi, chief district official in the Gorkha region, where the quake was centred.

"Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls," said Matt Darvas, a member of the aid group World Vision. "It will likely be helicopter access only."

Saturday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts. At least 18 people died there and 61 were injured.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam said Monday that the death toll had risen to 3,218 people but he gave no further details. So far 18 people have also been confirmed dead in an avalanche that swept through the Mount Everest base camp in the wake of the earthquake. Another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India. China reported that 20 people had died in Tibet.

Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal said tents and water were being handed out Monday at 10 locations in Kathmandu, but that aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery.

"There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult. Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them," he said.

Tens of thousands spent the night sleeping in parks or on a golf course. Others camped in open squares lined by cracked buildings and piles of rubble.

"We don't feel safe at all. There have been so many aftershocks. It doesn't stop," said Rajendra Dhungana, 34, who spent the day with his niece's family for her cremation at the Pashuputi Nath Temple in Kathmandu. "I've watched hundreds of bodies burn."

The capital city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings. But outside of the oldest neighbourhoods, many in Kathmandu were surprised by how few modern structures collapsed in the quake.

Aid workers also warned that the situation could be far worse near the epicenter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centred near Lamjung, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu.

The earthquake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It destroyed swaths of the oldest neighbourhoods of Kathmandu and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan.

Nepal's worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

Rescuers aided by international teams spent Sunday digging through rubble of buildings - concrete slabs, bricks, iron beams, wood - to look for survivors. Because the air was filled with chalky concrete dust, many people wore breathing masks or held shawls over their faces.

Hundreds of people in Kathmandu's western Kalanki neighbourhood nervously watched the slow progress of a single backhoe digging into the rubble of the collapsed Lumbini Guest House, once a three-story budget hotel.

Most areas were without power and water. The United Nations said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overcrowded and running out of emergency supplies and space to store corpses.

Most shops in Kathmandu were closed after the government declared a weeklong period of recovery. Only fruit vendors and pharmacies seemed to be doing business.

"More people are coming now," fruit seller Shyam Jaiswal said. "They cannot cook so they need to buy something they can eat raw."

Jaiswal said stocks were running out, and more shipments were not expected for at least a week, but added, "We are not raising prices. That would be illegal, immoral profit."

The quake will probably put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

The first nations to respond were Nepal's neighbours - India, China and Pakistan, all of which have been jockeying for influence over the landlocked nation. Nepal remains closest to India, with which it shares deep political, cultural and religious ties.

Other countries sending support Sunday included the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Israel and Singapore.

The Canadian Press




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