Rescue workers in Nepal pulled two survivors Thursday from the rubble of last weekend's devastating earthquake, rare moments of joy as the death toll climbed to nearly 6,000.
Cheers rang out in Nepal's capital of Kathmandu as rescuers pulled a 15-year-old boy, Pemba Tamang, from a demolished guest house. Hours later, a hotel kitchen worker, a woman in her 30s, Krishna Devi Khadka, was also pulled to safety.
The youth, caked in dust, was fitted with a neck brace before he was carried away on a stretcher and raced to a field hospital. But health care workers said he had suffered only minor cuts and bruises. The boy said he stayed alive by eating a jar of ghee, clarified butter, that he found in the darkness of the debris he was trapped in.
Tamang described his horror as the earthquake occurred last Saturday.
"I tried to run but ... something fell on my head and I lost consciousness — I've no idea for how long," he said. "When I came round, I was trapped under the debris and there was total darkness. I heard other people's voices screaming out for help around me ... but I felt helpless."
Rescue workers said the woman they found was conscious and talking, with one saying, "It is as though she had been born again."
Teams of rescue workers from across the world continued digging through rubble and aid groups worked to get much needed supplies to survivors.
VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited the village of Majigaon, northeast of Kathmandu, where he said people are dealing with the destruction of every building along with the major loss of their livestock. He said they are also not getting much outside help.
"There has been scant and fleeting presence in this part of the country," he said. "We were told that a team of about five Singaporeans stopped by yesterday to give first aid. They were here for less than 20 minutes, and that has been it so far here in this particular village on the banks of the Indrawati river."
UN to assess operations
World Food Program chief Ertharin Cousin traveled to Nepal Thursday to see first hand the WFP’s relief operation. While in Nepal, Cousin will meet with government officials and humanitarians involved in the relief effort. She will travel to remote locations where WFP is delivering food.
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Nepal Thursday for a three-day visit to assess relief operations.
The U.N. launched an urgent appeal Wednesday for $415 million to provide shelter for 500,000 people who are sleeping out in the open, as well as medicine, water and food for millions affected by the earthquake. The U.N. said the disaster destroyed 130,000 houses and damaged thousands more.
In addition, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization said $8 million is urgently needed to help Nepalese farmers recover their losses and assist them with the imminent rice growing season.
Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama discussed aid efforts in a telephone call with Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. The U.S. is providing more than $10 million for both immediate efforts, such as clean water and search and rescue operations, and for long-term recovery efforts.
People in Kathmandu continued leaving Thursday by bus to reach their families in remote areas that were hardest hit by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake.
Many in Nepal have been frustrated by what they say is a slow response by the government. Several hundred people protested Wednesday by blocking traffic in Kathmandu.
The International Committee of the Red Cross created a website for friends and family to report missing loved ones, or search for those who have checked in.