Nepal earthquake: Death toll passes 4,400

By Sumnima Udas, Tim Hume and Jethro Mullen CNN
POSTED: 12:15 AM CDT Apr 28, 2015    UPDATED: 02:24 AM CDT Apr 28, 2015 
KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) – More than 4,400 people dead. Over 8,000 injured. Eight million affected across Nepal. One million children urgently in need of help.

Those are the startling numbers that indicate the scale of the devastation from the huge earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday.

And some of the grim figures are likely to get even worse.

Rescue and aid workers in Nepal are struggling to cope with the challenge — digging through rubble by hand, performing surgeries in makeshift operating theaters, scouring notoriously difficult terrain for more victims.

But power blackouts in the capital city of Kathmandu, supply shortages and difficulties getting around complicated the efforts.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said doctors at one Kathmandu hospital had moved patients from the 120-year-old building and into another structure, where they were operating on patients in rooms normally not used as operating theaters.

Death toll expected to rise

The death toll in Nepal stood at 4,352 Tuesday morning, according to the country’s Home Ministry. Another 72 people died in India, while China reported 25 deaths.

Most of the casualty numbers in Nepal are believed to have come mainly from Kathmandu and the surrounding area. They are expected to rise further as information emerges from more remote areas.

The United Nations estimated that the disaster had affected 8 million people across the Himalayan nation. More than 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance, the world body said in a situation report Monday.

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, said Sunday that nearly 1 million Nepalese children urgently need assistance.

Hospitals were running short on supplies despite international efforts to bring in aid. Numerous aid groups and at least 16 nations rushed aid and workers to Nepal, with more on the way.

And across the region, tens of thousands of people spent another night outdoors, fearing that damaged buildings could collapse if there are more aftershocks.

The destruction in Kathmandu, the capital, is stark: revered temples reduced to rubble, people buried in the wreckage of their homes, hospitals short on medical supplies and overflowing with patients. Serious damage is also reported in villages in the surrounding valley.

But farther out across Nepal’s rugged landscape — closer to the epicenter of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake — the situation is disturbingly murky.

“Information about remote areas is severely lacking at this time,” said Devendra Singh Tak, an official with Save the Children, noting that roads were blocked and communications unreliable.

Reports of ‘total or near total destruction’

Patchy reports have filtered through of entire villages leveled by the quake or engulfed by landslides.

“Some of the initial surveys that we’re hearing of from the zones closer to the epicenter talk about total or near total destruction,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Tak, who is in Kathmandu, said Save the Children and other aid groups were sending out teams Monday to more remote areas. The Nepalese government said it was flying helicopters to places it couldn’t reach by road.

“That’s where one needs to get out and conduct rescue and relief,” Tak said.

China, India, France, Italy, Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and South Korea were among the nations sending aid and search and rescue crews. The European Union and the World Health Organization were also sending aid.

The United States announced Monday it would send $9 million, on top of the $1 million it had previously announced. That’s in addition to 45 tons of aid, a USAID disaster team and a search and rescue team already dispatched to Nepal. A U.S. Special Forces team in Nepal for high-altitude training was also helping out, according to the Pentagon.

Four U.S. citizens are among the dead, according to the State Department.

Video shows survivor pulled from rubble

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