Four Irish citizens in Nepal yet to make contact

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Devastation: The death toll surpassed 5,000 yesterday and is expected to rise
Devastation: The death toll surpassed 5,000 yesterday and is expected to rise

There are still four Irish citizens yet to make contact with their loved ones or the government after the devastating earthquake which has caused untold horror in Nepal.

The death toll yesterday surpassed 5,000 and is expected to rise again, officials say. 

Nepalese police today said the death toll from the quake had reached 5,027. Another 18 were killed on the slopes of Mount Everest, while 61 died in neighbouring India, and China's official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet.

The disaster also injured more than 10,000, police said, and rendered thousands more homeless.

The UN says the disaster has affected 8.1 million people - more than a quarter of Nepal's population of 27.8 million - and that 1.4 million needed food assistance.

Speaking today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the vast majority of Irish citizens believed to be in Nepal have been accounted for. However, four of the 150 or so citizens have yet to make contact. 

"As of this morning there are now 4 citizens on the Department’s list with whom contact has yet to be made.

"Some of these people may be in remote areas where communications would be sporadic at the best of times, or may not in fact have been in the area at the time, which means it is taking time to formally account for all Irish citizens.

He added: "There are no suggestions at this stage of any Irish fatalities."

An injured Irishman was today airlifted from the region following extensive diplomatic dialogue between the government and our Norwegian counterparts. 

Meanwhile, the United Nations is appealing for 415 million dollars (€370 million) to provide for vital needs in Nepal over the next three months.

It intends to support government efforts to provide shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food and protection.

The UN's humanitarian co-ordinator for Nepal, Jamie McGoldrick, said the response to date was encouraging, but those efforts need to be maintained, especially in remote areas.

He noted that the coming monsoon season was likely to add a logistical challenge to relief efforts, adding to the urgency. 

The rescue effort is still continuing under difficult circumstances. But there are some heartening stories emerging. 

French rescuers freed a man from the ruins of a three-storey Kathmandu hotel more than three days after the quake. Rishi Khanal, 27, said he drank his own urine to survive.
Mr Khanal had just finished lunch at a hotel on Saturday and had gone up to the second floor when everything suddenly started moving and falling. He was struck by falling masonry and trapped with his foot crushed under rubble.
"I had some hope but by yesterday I'd given up. My nails went all white and my lips cracked ... I was sure no one was coming for me. I was certain I was going to die," he told the Associated Press from his hospital bed.
Mr Khanal said he was surrounded by dead people and a terrible smell. But he kept banging on the rubble all around him and eventually this brought a French rescue team that extracted him after being trapped for 82 hours.
"I am thankful," he said.