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Nepalis Desperate for Food, Water; Death Toll Tops 4,300

  • VOA News

People in earthquake-hit Nepal were in desperate need of water and other basics Tuesday, as rescue workers and humanitarian groups continued trying to reach the country and those buried under rubble.

The United Nations said the disaster has affected 8 million people with 1.4 million in need of food aid.

Officials said Tuesday the death toll had climbed to more than 4,300 people with about 8,000 others injured. They said those numbers could go higher as workers clear away more rubble and access more remote areas.

Many people spent another night sleeping outside or in tents with magnitude 4 and 5 aftershocks still shaking the region following Saturday's 7.8-magnitude quake.

Officials said Tuesday the death toll had climbed to more than 4,300 people with about 8,000 others injured. They said those numbers could go higher as workers clear away more rubble and access more remote areas.

VOA in Kathmandu

VOA correspondent Steve Herman, who is in Kathmandu, said traveling to the capital city was not a problem Tuesday, but accessing outlying areas remained a challenge.

"The big concern are for villages closer to the epicenter," Herman said. "There's no way to get to these places by road. The only way to get there is by helicopter, and we're getting reports of villages that, this village had 500 people, another village had a thousand people, and just numerous villages like that that have been flattened."

Health officials warned about the risk of disease with a shortage of clean water and so many people crowded together in the open.

Chaitya Bajrachary of Kathmandu was critical of the government's response so far.

"The government is not even giving water to us," Bajrachary said. "I cannot tell you how difficult it was to pass the night. It was such a hard night as we didn't even have water to drink."

Hospitals in Kathmandu have been overwhelmed by the injured.

Some planes carrying relief workers and supplies were turned back from the overwhelmed Kathmandu airport Monday, while others were able to offload cargo before evacuating some of the injured.

Saturday's earthquake struck 80 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu, leveling large parts of the capital's historic center.

WATCH: Related video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke

​Oxfam executive Helen Szoke told VOA the earthquake is a humanitarian and economic "double hit," destroying infrastructure in the tourism dependent country.

Scores of people also were killed in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and elsewhere along the remote Nepal-Chinese border region.

One source told VOA's Tibetan service that quakes and landslides severely damaged the main highway connecting Tibet to Nepal.

The U.S. State Department on Monday confirmed the deaths of two Americans, Thomas Ely Taplin and Vinh B. Truong, at Mount Everest base camp.

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.​

VOA's Tibetan and Mandarin services contributed to this report.

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