Death toll in Nepal passes 4,600, officials say

Red Deer’s Beverly Williams safe after hiking when earthquake hit

  • Apr. 29, 2015 2:48 p.m.

After not being heard from for three days following a devastating earthquake in Nepal over the weekend, Red Deer’s Beverly Williams, has reached out to loved ones via facebook.

According to Michael Dawe, Williams’ partner, she imports wool sweaters and normally visits Ecuador and Peru every year to purchase them. She also purchases sweaters from Nepal and this year decided to visit the country to meet with the people there who make them.

Williams wrote early yesterday morning on facebook, “Hello everyone. Finally online for one second. I was in the earthquake and it was horrible. Write later.”

The death toll from last Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake has surpassed 4,600 with officials saying that number could reach 10,000 as aid workers continue to search through the rubble.

Dawe said Williams got into Kathmandu on April 16th and then on April 22nd she had a chance to go on a seven-day hike into the foothills to a place called Langtang National Park.

“When the earthquake hit, she was probably part way to Langtang. There was no record of her having arrived at Langtang,” said Dawe. “We presume she was on the trail when the earthquake hit. She would have been badly shaken wherever she was.”

Meanwhile, The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is mounting an emergency operation to help survivors of the Nepal earthquake, with food trucks rolling today into the district of Gorkha, one of the worst hit areas.

WFP plans to provide food for 1.4 million people in urgent need of assistance over the next three months at a cost of US$116.5 million. Distributions of rice are expected to start today in Gorkha, using stocks that WFP already had in-country from its existing operations prior to the earthquake.

Trucks with WFP food are in Gorkha trying to reach the survivors, but landslides and poor roads are making conditions difficult. A helicopter will fly to the area to transport food onwards to more remote villages that are inaccessible by road. Emergency food supplies, including high-energy biscuits, are also being brought in by air from Bangladesh and Dubai in the next days.

A plane from the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Malaysia arrived in Kathmandu this morning carrying field hospitals, medical supplies and aid workers.

In addition to food distributions, as the lead of the humanitarian community’s Logistics Cluster, WFP is also providing logistics support for the entire aid operation in Nepal.

WFP hopes to have two helicopters operational in the coming days to transport both humanitarian cargo and aid workers to the worst affected areas.

It is estimated that up to eight million people have been affected by the earthquake. Initial estimates from WFP’s assessment teams — working with satellite imagery and existing data — indicate that around 1.4 million people in priority areas urgently need food assistance. Five teams are now conducting field assessments in 11 districts to verify these findings.

WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions and has appealed for anyone who wishes to help to make a donation at www.wfp.org/nepal.

Red Cross officials are also on the ground in Nepal and are in need of aid as well. Canadians are encouraged to support people impacted by this disaster by making a donation to the Canadian Red Cross Nepal Region Earthquake Fund at www.redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111 or by contacting the local Canadian Red Cross office.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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