NEPAL (CNN) — As the death toll from Nepal’s worst earthquake in decades surged past 3,700 on Monday, big questions remained about the extent of the devastation in rural areas.
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, told CNN that 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.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, said Sunday that nearly 1 million Nepalese children urgently need assistance.
China, India, France, Italy, Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Switzerland were among the nations sending aid and search and rescue crews.
3 U.S. citizens among dead
Three of the dead are U.S. citizens, a State Department official told CNN on Sunday. The State Department didn’t provide any names, but we’ve learned them:
- Google executive Dan Fredinburg died in an avalanche on Mount Everest, according to an Instagram post by his sister on his account.
- Eve Girawong of New Jersey also died in an avalanche on Everest, according to Madison Mountaineering, the Seattle-based company that led her expedition. Girawong, a doctor, was at the Everest base camp when she was swept away to her death.
- Tom Taplin, a filmmaker from Santa Monica, California, was making a documentary on Everest climbers when wind stirred by the avalanche caused him to take a fall, CNN affiliate KABC reported.
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