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Irish aid agency's race against time to airlift 63 tonnes of "live-saving" aid into Nepal

Aid: Plan Ireland is trying to get the 63 tonnes of aid into Nepal
Aid: Plan Ireland is trying to get the 63 tonnes of aid into Nepal

Aid workers are facing a race against time to airlift life-saving supplies from Ireland into previously cut-off areas of disaster-struck Nepal, they have warned.

Plan Ireland, an international development agency, said it is trying to get 63 tonnes of emergency items into the most isolated and mountainous parts of the country's central region.

The thousands of blankets, tents, tarpaulins and jerry cans had been dropped into some of the worst affected areas of Nepal by Irish Aid, the Irish Government's programme.

Mike Bruce, of Plan Ireland, said nine in ten houses have been destroyed by the earthquake in the communities they are targeting and the supplies will have a massive impact.

"These rural areas are in desperate need of humanitarian support," he said.

"This distribution will ensure those who are sleeping without shelter and are in dire need of food are getting life-saving support."

The organisation has already distributed more than 2,300 emergency shelter supplies, food and other urgent household items to dozens of devastated districts and villages.

Food parcels - including rice, pulses, oil and salt - will keep a family of 10 from going hungry for a week.

The relief agency is working with local organisations, village committees and authorities to ensure those most in need are getting help as quickly as possible.

But air traffic and the large volume of aid and cargo flights coming in effectively bottlenecked Kathmandu airport.

The hold-ups are making it difficult to deliver items to communities as quickly as desired, leaving relief workers with a "race against time", they said.

Mattias Bryneson, Plan Nepal's country director, said the crisis was being "made worse" as many roads have been badly damaged and blocked by landslides.

"But now that we have access to areas that were previously cut off, we are working around the clock to ensure our emergency supplies are reaching those devastated by last week's events," he added.

On Friday, the Irish Government confirmed all 170 Irish citizens known to be in Nepal had been found safe and well.

Most returned to Ireland but emergency teams were working with overseas diplomats to help a number of people who remain in the country.

Ireland has given €1 million to the international aid effort.