Officials attempting to contact all Irish citizens caught up in Nepal quake
There was up to 50 Irish citizens in Nepal when the massive earthquake hit – and officials are making attempts to contact all of them as strong aftershocks continue to rock the region in its wake.
Tens of thousands of traumatised Nepalese who spent the night under a chilly sky were jolted awake by strong aftershocks as rescuers cleared rubble in search of survivors, and it is believed the death toll is now approaching the 2,000 mark, according to independent.ie.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, said his department is aware of some 50 citizens in the affected region.
"Contact has already been established with many of them," he said.
"Communications lines have been affected so this is an ongoing process that may take some time. We will continue to provide consular advice and assistance over the coming days as the situation evolves.”
“A team in Dublin is liaising closely with our team at the Embassy of Ireland in New Delhi which is accredited to Nepal. Embassy officials are continuing to work actively with EU and other international partners in the region, with a view to providing practical assistance for our citizens," he said.
Anyone concerned about Irish family or friend in the region can contact the Department on 01 418 0200.
A group of Irish people were caught up in the devastating earthquake but all were reported to be safe.
A party of nine Irish experienced hillwalkers from Co Wexford had just arrived in Kathmandu after setting off from Ireland shortly before the deadly 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck.
The group contains Riverchapel parish priest Fr Tom Dalton (45) and well-known local businesswoman Catherine Jordan.
Mr Flanagan said staff are also working closely with the UN and NGO partners on how Ireland can best assist in the coming days.
“An emergency Consular Response Team was established yesterday in my Department and will remain in place for as long as necessary to assist citizens who may be affected and their families," he said.
Nepal bore the brunt of the quake's impact with at least 1,805 dead and more than 5,000 injured and the toll is expected to climb as more reports come in from far-flung areas.
Among the dead are at least 17 who were struck by a quake-triggered avalanche on Mount Everest that buried part of the base camp packed with foreigners at the end of the climbing season.
Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive who described himself as an adventurer, was among those who died.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which originated outside the capital Kathmandu, was the worst to hit the poor Himalayan nation in over 80 years. It destroyed the historic part of the city and was strong enough to be felt across the northern part of neighbouring India, Bangladesh, China's region of Tibet and Pakistan, where a total of 60 people died.
"There were at least three big quakes at night and early morning. How can we feel safe? This is never-ending and everyone is scared and worried," said Sundar Sah. "I hardly got much sleep. I was waking up every few hours and glad that I was alive."
When the earth first shook, residents fled homes and buildings in panic. Walls tumbled, trees swayed, power lines came crashing down and large cracks opened up on streets and walls.
After yesterday's chaos - when little organised rescue and relief was seen - there was relatively more order as rescue teams fanned out across the city.
At one place in the Kalanki neighbourhood, police rescuers tried to extricate a man lying under a dead person, crushed by a pile of concrete slabs and iron beams. His family members stood nearby, crying and praying.